Denmark opposes EU green label for gas and nuclear

Denmark and Spain have reiterated their opposition to plans by the European Union to label gas and nuclear energy projects as green investments, an issue that has divided the bloc.

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Spain's Premier Pedro Sanchez
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Spain's Premier Pedro Sanchez speak at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid on February 21st 2022. Photo: Paul White/AP/Ritzau Scanpix

The two nations believe such a move would send “the wrong message to investors and society as a whole”, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday told a joint news conference in Madrid with his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen.

The European Commission drafted plans late last year to label gas and nuclear energy as green investments, a move it hopes will steer huge sums of private capital into activities that support EU climate goals.

But Austria and Luxembourg have along with Spain and Denmark opposed the EU’s draft plans for a so-called “sustainable finance taxonomy”.

Heavyweight Germany opposes labelling nuclear power as sustainable, but not gas.

Sanchez and Frederiksen believe decisions about the new rulebook should have a “strictly scientific basis”, a “position shared by Austria and Luxembourg”. the Spanish government said in a statement after the two leaders met.

EU member states are awaiting the commission’s final proposal, which it has said it will publish soon, without giving a date.

Once published, a majority of the European Parliament or a super-majority of EU member states — 20 of the 27 countries — could block the rules.

It is unlikely that such a majority will be reached since a dozen nations including nuclear-reliant France back the new rulebook.

READ ALSO: Danish government changes stance on EU business equality quota

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Why Denmark’s bees are becoming a rarer sight

Several species of insect are declining in Denmark, with bees notably reduced in number compared to years past.

Why Denmark’s bees are becoming a rarer sight

As many as 56 species of bee – one in five of the insects in the wild – is in danger of disappearing from Denmark’s nature, according to the World Wildlife Fund, WWF.

35 of the bee species are categorised as endangered or critically endangered, while 21 are “vulnerable”. 19 can already no longer be found in Denmark.

“One thing is that wild bees live their lives, reproduce and are prey for animals like birds and thereby form part of the food chain. Another thing is that they pollinate our wild flowers and in part our crops, along with many other insects,” Thor Hjarsen, senior biologist with WWF, told news wire Ritzau.

Denmark has around 300 different species of bee altogether.

Part of the cause of their decline is the removal of many of their natural habitats from urban and agricultural areas. Some fertilizers are meanwhile poisonous to the insects.

Bees and butterflies, both important pollinators, are among the most endangered species in Denmark, an expert said.

“The bees represent a loss of diversity. There are some bees and butterflies we simply don’t see anymore in our nature,” Rasmus Ernjæs, a biodiversity researcher at Aarhus University, told Ritzau.

Hjarsen said the loss of bees represented a potential problem for food security.

“The important role played by bees in the ecosystem and our food production is at the core of this problem,” he said.

The senior biologist called for more wild habitats to be created to help bees make a comeback.

“But if you make a habitat in your garden or local park they will actually come back there too,” he said.