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ENVIRONMENT

What are Denmark’s rules on plastic bags?

A price hike on plastic shopping bags will take effect next year, but what will a new Danish law actually say about carrier bag charges?

What are Denmark’s rules on plastic bags?
Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

All carrier bags with handles will cost a minimum of 4 kroner from next year.

That includes paper bags, provided they have handles.

This is because a broad parliamentary majority has passed a bill forbidding businesses from giving carrier bags to their customers without taking payment, and increasing the charge for doing so, as DR reports.

Thin, clear plastic bags used for fruit and vegetables and paper bags for pick-and-mix sweets are not covered by the legislation.

But single-use, thin plastic bags – think of the type used to carry takeaway food containers, which are translucent but often blue or pink – are already banned. The bags must be thinner than 0.15 micrometres and without handles to be excluded.

That ban has already been ratified by the EU, in an effort to see an end to lightweight plastic bags which can be blown out to sea.

If you need a stronger plastic bag to carry your groceries home from the supermarket, you will have to pay a fee.

All plastic carrier bags thicker than 30 micrometres, with or without handles, will cost at least 4 kroner. The price can be set by the environment minister.

Bags made of materials other than plastic and with handles will also be encompassed by the charge.

Bags not made of plastic and without handles – such as paper bags used for loaves of bread from the baker – are not subject to the extra charge.

Thin, small handle-less plastic bags for fruit and vegetables have also been exempted for hygiene reasons.

Sources: DR, retsinformation.dk

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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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