Danish agriculture wants to be carbon neutral by 2050

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council (Landbrug & Fødevarer, DAFC) wants Denmark to produce its meat and vegetables with net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Danish agriculture wants to be carbon neutral by 2050
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The ambitious target would require a huge effort from the industry along with support from the state, said Anne Lawaetz Arhnung, director of DAFC, a major interest organisation which represents farmers and producers in the agricultural sector.

Government investment in the area is necessary to support research and to compensate farmers who do more for the environment, according to Arhnung.

“We want to take responsibility for the global challenge in which more food is required, but it also needs to be produced in a sustainable way,” she said.

Agriculture is currently responsible for one-fifth of Denmark’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

Methods already in use can be expanded to help reach the 2050 target, according to DAFC.

These include excluding low-lying earth, often in areas close to water, from use in food production, since this type of earth emits relatively high amounts of carbon dioxide.

“This is a rather expensive and major exercise. But we also know it is one of the most effective areas (to focus on) in regard to reducing CO2 (emissions),” Arhnung said.

“For this to happen in such a fast and efficient manner, we need economic backing from the state,” she added.

Other potential methods for reducing emissions include converting slurry to biogas, improving animal feed and breeding animals that emit less CO2.

But new methods and solutions must also be found in the upcoming years, should the target be achieved, according to DAFC.

As such, research in the area is vital, Arhnung said.

The Danish Council on Climate Change (Klimarådet) praised the DAFC target.

“I think it’s fantastic every time a sector joins in the battle (to fight climate change). This is a good start. Now we need to see action, and this needs to be spread out to individual farmers,” the council’s chairperson Peter Møllgaard said.

“I also think it could be a good business model for the agricultural sector to produce climate-friendly products,” he added.

READ ALSO: Danish dairy giant wants CO2-neutral milk production by 2050

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‘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.