Denmark is already one of the greenest countries in the world, thanks to its offshore wind farms, and now its climate minister has made a dramatic promise. The nation will stop burning coal for energy in ten years.

Photo via Vattenfall

Because Denmark already has a fairly robust alternative energy infrastructure, this plan might actually pan out. It's certainly a bold move, and a good way to raise the bar for other nations that are making the switch to clean fuels. Denmark has already lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent over the past two decades.

Joseph R. Fonseca reports for Maritime Reporter:

Denmark has already taken big steps to break reliance on high-polluting coal - wind turbines are set to generate more than half of all electricity by 2020 and 41 percent of people in Copenhagen cycle to work or school, higher than in Amsterdam.

"The cost (of phasing out coal) would not be significant," Climate, Energy and Building Minister Helveg Petersen told Reuters of a proposal he made this week to bring forward a planned phase-out of all coal use to 2025 from 2030.

His ministry is studying details of how it would work before unveiling a formal plan. Denmark imports about 6 million tonnes a year of coal on world markets, currently from Russia, so a ban would coincidentally cut dependence on Moscow for energy.

The Danish Energy Association, representing energy firms, said a faster phase-out of coal would bring risks that wind turbines could not meet demand on calm days. Coal now generates about a third of Danish electricity.

"There will be a bill to pay," said Anders Stouge, deputy head of the association. Petersen said that some coal-fired plants could shift to burning wood as a backup.

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