SHARE
COPY LINK

ENVIRONMENT

Denmark to clamp down on chemical-containing toys

The government is to introduce new legislation against toy products that contain harmful chemicals.

Denmark to clamp down on chemical-containing toys
A number of 'squishies' were withdrawn from the market in Denmark earlier this year. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Minister for the Environment and Food Jakob Ellemann-Jensen and Business Minister Rasmus Jarlov are to beef up legal framework against companies and suppliers who sell dangerous toys.

Rule changes will mean that complaints can be pursued whenever toys containing hazardous substances are sold, regardless of whether the seller was aware of the issue at the time of sale.

Currently, prosecution is only possible when sellers willingly sell unsafe toys.

“In future it will also be possible to punish companies that are slack with safety,” Ellemann-Jensen said via a press statement.

“As such, companies will be increasingly responsible for what they sell,” the minister added.

Jarlov said he expected retailers and importers of toy products to improve practice as tighter rules are introduced.

“I think this will make companies, that perhaps weren't as thorough before, think a little more about the rules,” he said.

The government measure comes after reports earlier this year of the withdrawal from the market of certain products of squishies, a soft toy made from foam. The toys were found to contain potentially harmful chemicals.

The Ecological Council (Det Økonomiske Råd), an independent environmental organisation, welcomed the move but added that labelling on products was the best way to promote safety.

“The bulk of the responsibility is on producers and this would help the stores that sell toys,” the organisation’s senior advisor Lone Mikkelsen said.

“That would give customers the option of choosing for themselves not to buy, for example, hormone-disrupting chemicals that are not yet forbidden in toys,” Mikkelsen added.

READ ALSO: Denmark pressures EU on everyday chemicals

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