Interview with Henningsen, Jørgen

From the The European Commission 1986-2000. Memories of an institution Collection

Identity Statement

HAEU Reference Code
Interview Informations

Recorded in 29 September 2017 Copenhague
Interview by Jan-Henrik Meyer in English

Access Level
Open Transcript, Open Audio

Electronic File



In this interview, Mr Henningsen discussed the following topics:
- his childhood, education, studies in theology and chemical engineering, specialisation in
petrochemical engineering, Stanford;
- his experience of environmental problems, job at nascent environmental ministry in
Denmark in 1972, work on energy and environment, first shelved, then important expertise
in the wake of the oil crisis, earliest instance of environmental policy integration, energy information campaign (Energioplysnings udvalget), environmental groups (OOA, NOAH), renewables, energy saving, nuclear power in Denmark, Risø nuclear research centre, Rasmussen report, separation of promotion and regulation in Denmark;
- his move to environmental protection agency, relations with superiors, Barsebäck, public events, event at Radio House 1977 or 1978, work with Director
- General Jens Kampmann, chemicals regulation at OECD, DONG state to state oil trade with Saudi Arabia in 1979;
- his leave of absence from agency for three years, return, measures to reduce SO2 emissions
from coal and oil, emissions trading on sulphur dioxide, legislation to reduce emissions;
- his entry into the Commission, interview with Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, entrance in October 1987, director for water, air, nature conservation, 1990 additional fourth unit global environmental issues, including climate change;
- one-year leave of absence in 1998 after Kyoto protocol negotiation, China Council on Sustainable development;
- return to Commission, Harvard stay, biofuels legislation, renewable energy, being an
advisor ;
- retiring, work for the European Policy Centre, member of the Danish Committee on Climate Change, writing letters to the Financial Times, interest in international organisations, notably OECD, making water policy, ministerial meeting, working with Klaus Töpfer, urban waste
- water, consulting with government, little involvement of NGOs on water policy, but NGOs like WWF active on biodiversity;
- SO2/ large combustion engines directive, making legislation under unanimity, car emissions legislation in 1980s, introducing catalytic converters, Germany in favour due to Waldsterben, car industry divided, alliance of countries supporting this legislation (Germany, Denmark), growth of NGOs, EEB weak;
- strong support in public opinion for environmental concerns, also e.g. in Spain; working on forests: Helmut Kohl’s 1990 G7 initiative to protect the Amazon, little impact, UN ideas on tropical forest, also little impact; Montreal protocol, developing funding instrument for the phase
- out of CFCs in developing countries; work on climate change;
- start of IPCC, differences between CFC and CO2-sceptical towards copying experience of Montreal protocol, Chantilly meeting, following Climate change further, difficulties with United States, EU pushed for CO2 stabilization by 2000, but had to adopt American approach to advance this, issue of developing countries’ emissions, Thatcher supports CO2 agenda as argument for nuclear advancing power, newspapers, relation with Danish ministry, but initiative rather from JH, rather than Danish side;
- appreciation of Delors, Brinkhorst, Ripa di Meana, working with Delors’ cabinet, preparing
Delors for meeting with George H.W. Bush in 1992 on Climate Change, supporting Delors – working directly with the Cabinet (Genevieve Pons), rather than Ripa di Meana position
in negotiations with United States on Climate Change in 1992.

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