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CLIMATE

Danish government boosts electric cars, puts out fireplaces in extensive climate plan

The government presented a 38-point plan aimed at tackling climate issues and pollution in a major announcement on Tuesday.

Danish government boosts electric cars, puts out fireplaces in extensive climate plan
The climate plan was presented at BLOX in Copenhagen on Tuesday morning. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and five other ministers presented the so-called climate and air plan (klima- og luftudspil), officially titled ‘Together for a Greener Future’, consisting of 38 different measures aimed at seven overarching areas.

“The conservative government is ready to take part in the fight against polluting policies, so the future can be green,” Rasmussen said.

Elements of the plan, published by the Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate on Tuesday, include:

  • Phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030
  • Zero carbon emissions and zero air pollution from buses in Danish cities by 2030
  • 80 million kroner to be invested in charging stations for electric cars
  • No registration fees for sustainable vehicles under the value of 400,000 kroner in 2019 and 2020
  • No diesel or petrol-fuelled taxis by 2030
  • Environmental zones in cities with increased requirements for transport and public vehicles
  • ‘Climate-friendly’ asphalt to be used on public roads
  • Fireplaces pre-dating the year 2000 must be removed on purchase of homes
  • Climate labelling on food products
  • Research to develop carbon capture and storage technologies for use in fields and forests

Minister for Energy, Utilities and Climate Lars Christian Lilleholt said at Tuesday’s press conference that the plan was ambitious but realistic.

“A strong effort is needed and that is what we are presenting today with this government proposal,” Lilleholt said according to DR’s report.

“We are facing a huge challenge nationally, globally and in general and that is why the government has put together this plan,” the minister added.

The climate plan was alluded to by Rasmussen during last week’s opening of parliament, when the PM announced the target of ending sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

Further elements of the plan, including labelling food with climate information, were subsequently released. Meanwhile, the government confirmed Tuesday that scrapping all old-fashioned fireplaces used to heat homes, which have a high relative impact on the environment, was a part of its climate plan.

A fund of 46 million kroner will be used to subsidise homeowners who wish to replace woodburning stoves predating 2000 with newer, greener models, DR reports.

Electric cars are set to become cheaper, should the plan be given parliamentary backing. The government has proposed a one-year postponement of a planned increase in registration taxes on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, while increasing tax deduction for green car owners to 40,000 kroner in 2019 and 77,500 kroner in 2020.

Uffe Elbæk, leader of the environmentalist Alternative party, wrote in a Twitter post that the government’s climate plan should have made more demands on the agricultural sector.

“When the government allows the agricultural sector to avoid contributing to green conversion, that is to the detriment of the industry itself. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will become. Instead, agriculture could take the lead and help develop climate solutions for Denmark and the rest of the world,” Elbæk wrote.

READ ALSO: Opinion: Overfishing in Danish seas is bad for the environment and the economy

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.

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