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Denmark announces ‘green tax reform’ but omits sought-after CO2 levy

The Danish government has omitted a proposal for taxation of CO2 emissions in its new green tax plan.

Denmark announces 'green tax reform' but omits sought-after CO2 levy
Ministers Dan Jørgensen (L) and Morten Bødskov present the green tax reform. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Presenting the proposed changes, tax minister Morten Bødskov said on Monday that the country was not yet ready to put a CO2 emissions tax into practice.

“This has the simple explanation that no one has any idea how you, for example, CO2-tax Danish agriculture and other business and industry sectors,” Bødskov said.

“We have agreed with parliament to look further into this. What we are presenting now is what we can do here and now,” he added.

The ‘green tax reform’ presented on Monday by Bødskov and climate minister Dan Jørgensen is split into three phases, with only the first phase detailed so far.

The overall target of Denmark’s climate policies is to reduce the countries CO2 emissions by 70 percent in 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

READ ALSO: Environmental organizations cheer 'historic' Danish climate goal

Businesses will pay higher taxes according to the new green plan, even without a CO2 emissions provision. However, the plan also provides funding for businesses to invest in greener operations. 4.5 billion kroner has been set aside for this, from 2021 to 2025. Taxes will increase by 715 million kroner in the same period.

An increase in energy tax will reduce CO2 emissions by 0.5 million tonnes in 2025, according to the proposal.

A further reduction of 16 million tonnes is needed to reach the 70 percent target by 2030.

The government’s parliamentary allies have criticised the plan and said it lacks ambition, while the non-partisan Danish Council on Climate Change has previously recommended a CO2 tax.

“Others have other points of view. They will have to put them forward in the negotiations [over a final bill to be passed by parliament, ed.] and will then have to point out how they think we can reach the targets,” Bødskov said.

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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.”

READ ALSO: 

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. 

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