SHARE
COPY LINK

ENVIRONMENT

Denmark pressures EU on everyday chemicals

Saying that "the phasing-out of harmful chemicals is progressing far too slow in the EU," Denmark's environment minister has recruited colleagues for a coordinated campaign targeting the EU Commission.

Denmark pressures EU on everyday chemicals
Photo: Onderwijsgek/WikiCommons
Denmark’s environment minister, Kirsten Brosbøl, has joined with seven other European ministers to pressure the new EU Commission to increase its efforts to protect consumers from dangerous chemicals. 
 
Brosbøl and the environment ministers of Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden are calling on the new members of the EU Commission to eliminate chemicals from everyday products. 
 
"Denmark holds an unfortunate record with regard to testicular cancer, and many couples are having difficulties getting pregnant, while children are reaching puberty at an ever earlier age. We know that this may be due to a number of harmful chemicals in our everyday lives,” Brosbøl said in a press release.
 
 
“My objective is to ensure that Danes, and Europeans in general, can live their daily lives free of harmful chemicals. Therefore, I have brought together a number of like-minded European environment ministers, and we have written to the new European Commission encouraging it to step up the work on the EU's chemicals policy," she added. 
 
The ministers are calling on the EU to act in five specific areas: minimising consumer exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, increased controls on nanomaterials, tougher regulations on imports from non-EU countries, the phasing out of products that are known to create side effects and tougher rules forcing the chemical industry to inform consumers about risks. 
 
"The industry is responsible for ensuring that their products are safe to use. But they don't have adequate knowledge about how dangerous their chemicals are. In the end, this means that consumers risk being exposed to harmful chemicals. We have to get this right," Brosbøl said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ENVIRONMENT

‘We still have a chance’: Danish minister’s relief after Glasgow climate deal

Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen has expressed relief that a meaningful climate change deal was struck in Glasgow last night, after a last minute move by India and China nearly knocked it off course.

'We still have a chance': Danish minister's relief after Glasgow climate deal
Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen speaks at the announcement of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“For the first time ever, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned. I’m very, very happy about that,” he told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “But I am also very disappointed that the stronger formulations were removed at the last minute.” 

Late on Saturday, the world’s countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, after negotiations dragged on while governments haggled over phasing out coal. 

Denmark is one of the countries leading the phase out of fossil fuels, formally launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) with ten other countries and states at the Glasgow summit on Tuesday, announcing an end to oil exploration last December, and committing to phase out coal by 2030 back in 2017. 

Jørgensen conceded that the deal struck on Saturday was nowhere near far-reaching enough to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, which scientists have estimated is critical to limiting the impacts of climate change, but he said the decision to hold another summit in Egypt next year meant that this goal could still be reached. 

“The big, good news is that we could have closed the door today. If we had followed the rules, we would only have had to update the climate plans in 2025, and the updates would only apply from 2030,” he said, adding that this would be too late. “Now we can fight on as early as next year. This is very rare under the auspices of the UN.” 

Limiting temperature rises to 1.5C was still possible, he said. 

“We have a chance. The framework is in place to make the right decisions. There was a risk that that framework would not be there.” 

Jørgensen said that he had come close to tears when India launched a last-minute bid to water down the language when it came to coal, putting the entire deal at risk. 

“It was all really about to fall to the ground,” he said. “The assessment was that either the Indians got that concession or there was no agreement.” 

Sebastian Mernild, a climate researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said he was disappointed by the lack of binding targets and global deadlines in the plan, but said it was nonetheless “a step in the right direction”, particularly the requirement that signatories to the Paris Agreement must tighten their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022.

“It’s good that this thing with fossil fuels has got in,” he added. “It’s a pity that you don’t have to phase them out, but only reduce.”

He said the test of whether the Glasgow meeting is a success or failure would not come until the various aspects of the plan are approved and implemented by members states.

SHOW COMMENTS