Denmark could make fossil-fuel cars cost more in effort to hit climate goal

Owning a petrol or diesel-fuelled car in Denmark must be made more expensive if emissions from private motor ownership are to be reduced, a government-appointed commission has said.

Denmark could make fossil-fuel cars cost more in effort to hit climate goal
Photo: Dennis Lehmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The commission for green transition of private vehicles has delivered its conclusions to the government of how to increase the number of green cars on Denmark’s roads, the Ministry of Tax said in a statement.

The reports sets out pathways to reach the country’s goal for all newly-registered cars to be emissions free or low emissions by 2030. The commission set out scenarios in which that goal could be achieved while maintaining the state’s income from private car ownership, according to the ministry statement.

Costs to the country’s economy were also taken into consideration, while avoiding creating further social inequality was also a priority for the commission.

READ ALSO: Denmark seeks to end sakes of fossil fuel-driven cars by 2030

“The motor commission has submitted a thorough analysis of the options for getting more green cars, which I look forward to reading. The government wants a green transition. Given that transport comprises a good 25 percent of total CO2 emissions, cars are an important step to achieving the government’s 70 percent (emissions reduction) goal by 2030,” tax minister Morten Bødskov said in the statement.

The commission’s recommendations include increasing petrol and diesel prices, subsidies for electric cars and a general road tax of 1,000 for which all motorists will be liable.

That would balance costs with 750,000 electric cars on the road by 2030, a realistic figure given economic factors, according to the commission.

But The Danish Council on Climate Change (Klimarådet), which advises the government on climate issues, maintains that one million electric cars by 2030 should be the target if the overall climate goal of 70 percent emissions reduction is to be achieved, DR writes.

The key recommendations are as follows:

  • A new tax of 1,000 which all vehicle owners are obliged to pay annually for using Danish roads
  • Increase fuel – petrol and diesel – prices by 1 krone per litre, beginning in 2021 (providing the recommendation to achieve 750,000 electric cars by 2030 is accepted)
  • Owners of new electric cars to be given subsidies of2,500 kroner annually until 2030
  • Base the registration tax (registreringsafgift) for new fossil fuel-powered cars will on emissions instead of the vehicle’s value
  • Increase the registration tax for electric cars – which is currently heavily subsidised – gradually until 2030

READ ALSO: Explained: Why is it so expensive to buy a car in Denmark?

According to its climate plan, Denmark must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.4m tonnes a year by 2030 to fulfil the goal of a 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to the level in 1990.

The motor commission states that a million green cars on the roads could cut emissions by 1.5 million tonnes.

READ ALSO: Down but not out: how Covid hit Denmark's climate plans

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Danish parliament gives go ahead to giant artificial island off Copenhagen

Denmark's parliament has given the go-ahead to build Lynetteholm, a giant artificial island that will protect Copenhagen's harbour waters from rising sea levels at the same times as providing homes for 35,000 people.

Danish parliament gives go ahead to giant artificial island off Copenhagen
How the island will look while udner construction. Photo: By og Havn

The bill empowering the government to push ahead with the project passed with a massive majority of 85 in favour and 12 against, opening the way for work to push ahead on the 2.8 square kilometer island early as this autumn.

In a short debate on Friday morning, Thomas Jensen, the Social Democrat MP coordinating the bill, dismissed claims that not enough had been done to assess the environmental consequences of what has been described as the largest construction project in Danish history.

“Of the bills I have helped to implement here in the parliament, this is the one which has been most thoroughly discussed, with expert consultations, technical reviews, and almost 200 questions to the Ministry of Transport, which have been answered by the rapporteurs,” he said. “So in terms of process, it is completely worked out.”


Ahead of the vote protesters from the Stop Lynetteholm Facebook group staged a protest outside the parliament, with many dressed in Sean the Sheep costumes. 

Protesters dressed as sheep staged a demonstration against the Lynetteholm project outside the parliament. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The parliamentary vote is not the last hurdle.

The project is also being challenged in the European Court of Justice, on the grounds that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)  have looked at the impact of constructing the island itself, but not of the roads, metro lines, housing and other developments which will go on it.

Lynetteholm is being built partly as a coastal protection project, with a dam that will protect Copenhagen from future storm surges.

The plan was first announced in 2018 by the then Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the then Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen.