Danish parties strike deal to develop carbon tax

Denmark's parties have forced the government to significantly toughen the climate plan it put forward in May, with a new plan agreed on Sunday night increasing the amount of projected greenhouse gas reductions from 2m to 3.4m tonnes, and committing the government to developing a carbon tax.

Danish parties strike deal to develop carbon tax
Denmark's finance minister Nicolai Wammen (centre), and negotiators from the other parties. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix
“When this government came in a year ago, we promised the Danes that we would put the climate on a pedestal and once again take the driving seat on green issues,” Denmark's finance minister, Nicolai Wammen, said after the deal was struck.  “That's something we are delivering in a big way today.” 
The centre-piece of the agreement, which is focused on energy and industry, is the creation of two “energy islands”, one artificial and one centred on the island of Bornholm, which together have the capacity to generate 5GW of power by 2030. 
The deal also includes a plan to subsidise carbon capture and Power-to-X technology which can turn power from the islands into green fuel. 
“With the establishment of the world's first two energy islands and the world's largest investment in green fuels, Denmark is taking global climate leadership seriously again,” climate minister Dan Jørgensen said. 
Morten Østergaard, leader of the Social Liberal Party, which had threatened to topple the government if a significant deal was not reached before the summer, hailed the agreement as a success.  
“This evening it became greener to be Danish,” Østergaard said on Twitter after the deal was struck. “Significant CO2 reductions and broad agreement on green tax reform. That's promising for a new quantum leap in the autumn.” 
The Danish Council on Climate Change, which consults on and evaluates the country's climate policies, has suggested that the current carbon tax of 177 Danish kroner ($26.6 dollars or 23.7 euros) per tonne should be increased to 1,500 kroner.
However, it is still not clear whether the government will follow the council's recommendations, and environmental groups did not share the government's enthusiasm for the new deal.
“We only see the relatively tenuous beginnings of a green transition in Denmark,” Helene Hagel, head of climate and environmental policy at Greenpeace Denmark, told AFP.
According to Hagel, the government will need to tax all greenhouse gases, not just CO2.
“It is essential to put a more precise price on pollution in the form of greenhouse gas taxes,” Hagel said.
The deal even won the backing of the populist Danish People's Party, which has in recent months suggested that Denmark should reduce its 70% emissions reduction goal to take into account the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. 
Only two parties, the New Right Party and Free Green Voices, refused to sign the agreement. 
“The Free Greens refuse to green stamp a government that has clearly not understood the urgent seriousness of the climate crisis,”  Sikandar Siddique, the independent MP representing the  latter group, said on Twitter. “That is why we are leaving the climate negotiations. A slow victory is a defeat.” 
Mette Abildgaard, spokesperson for the Conservative Party welcomed the agreement that any green tax would be revenue-neutral. 
“It is stated directly in the agreement that it should not be more expensive to do business in Denmark or more expensive to be a citizen of Denmark,” she said. “This will give us greener taxes, but we will not get a bigger tax burden.” 

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Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on in Denmark today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Monday
Sunny weather is expected all week this week. Photo: Niclas Jessen/Visit Denmark

Denmark’s former PM names new party Moderaterne 

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Denmark’s former prime minister, announced on Saturday that his new centre party would be called Moderaterne, the same name as the leading centre-right party in Sweden. 

In a speech held to mark Denmark’s Constitution Day on Saturday, Rasmussen said the new party would attempt to unite Danes with a variety of different backgrounds and political viewpoints. 

“Some prefer mackerel, and others prefer salmon. Some have long Danish pedigrees, others have only recently chosen to live in Denmark,” he said.

What they all have in common, he said, is their love for Denmark, which is “among the best countries in the world”. 

“How do we drive it forward? We are trying to find an answer to that. How do we pass it on to our children in better condition than we received it?” 

Rasmussen said the party would not launch fully until after November’s local elections, but was ready to contest a parliamentary election if the ruling Social Democrats decided to call an early vote, something he said he did not expect to happen. 

Sweden’s state epidemiologist warns Swedes to be careful in “high-infection” Denmark 

After the per capita number of new coronavirus infections in Denmark in recent days overtaking that of Sweden, Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has advised Swedes visiting their Nordic neighbour to be careful to maintain social distancing. 

“You need to keep [the infection rate] in mind if you go there, so that you really take with you the advice you have in Sweden to keep your distance, not stay with lots of other people, and not have the close contact that involves a risk,” he told the Expressen newspaper. 

He said Denmark’s higher infection rate was an obvious consequence of the country’s more rapid lifting of restrictions. 

“They chose to open up society relatively quickly even though they knew that there was a certain risk that the spread of infection would increase,” he said. “Because they had vaccinated the elderly and did not see that it would be that dangerous with a certain increased spread of infection.” 

Nils Strandberg Pedersen, former director for Denmark’s SSI infectious diseases agency called Tegnell’s comments “comical”. 

“It’s comical. It’s Swedish spin,” he told the BT tabloid. “Denmark has registered more infections because we test so much more than the Swedes. It’s not the same as having more people infected in the population.” 

More immigrants to Denmark are getting an education 

The education gap between first and second-generation immigrants to Denmark and people of Danish origin has fallen over the last decade, according to a story published in Politiken based on new figures from Denmark’s immigration ministry. 

An impressive 72 percent of 20 to 24-year-old first and second-generation female immigrants now completing further education of university education, compared to 58 percent in 2010.

Denmark records further 853 cases of coronavirus 

A further 853 people were diagnosed with coronavirus in the 24 hours running up to 2pm on Sunday, a rise on Saturday when 592 cases were detected, but still within the range of 600 to 1350 a day within which Denmark has been fluctuating since the start of May. 

Thorkild Sørensen, professor emeritus of epidemiology at the University of Copenhagen, told Ritzau that the sunny summer weather was allowing people to meet outside, and vaccinations were having an impact, allowing Denmark to open up without a surge in infections.

On Sunday morning, 138 people were being treated for coronavirus in Denmark’s hospitals, up four from Saturday, or whom 29 were in intensive care. 

Some 40.4 percent of the population has now received at least one dose of vaccine and 23.2 percent have received both doses. 

Sunny summer weather expected in Denmark this week 

Denmark is expected to have warm sunny weather with temperatures of 18C to 23C, with blue skies and little rain, Danish Meteorological Institute said on Monday. 

“This week looks really nice and summery, and it will be mostly dry weather most of the time,” Anja Bodholdt, a meteorologist at the institute told Ritzau on Monday.  “The only exception is Monday, when people in Jutland and Funen might wake up to scattered showers that move east during the day.” 

Danish property market show signs of cooling 

The number of houses being put on the market fell again in May, according to new figures released from Home, one of Denmark’s largest online estate agents. 

According to Bjørn Tangaa Sillemann, an analyst at Danske Bank, the figures suggest that momentum is seeping out of what has been a “scorching” market over the last year, although he said it was unlikely prices would actually fall. 
“Although demand seems to be declining, it is still high, and when interest declines, it can also make it less attractive to put your home up for sale than it has been recently,” he said.
At Home, 5.1 percent fewer houses were put on the market in May, while the number of apartments put on the market fell 9 percent, and the number of sales fell by 2.1 and 5.7 percent respectively.