Denmark proposes uniform CO2 tax for most businesses

Denmark’s government on Wednesday proposed a “uniform” carbon dioxide emissions tax for businesses. But not all companies will pay the same rate according to the proposal.

Climate activists outside Denmark's tax ministry
Climate activists outside Denmark's tax ministry, where a new CO2 tax proposal was presented on April 20th. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The government proposal, entitled Grøn skattereform or Green Tax Reform, was presented by ministers on Wednesday.

“The ambitious CO2 tax which we are now presenting is… an important step on the way to fulfilling our climate targets. We must phase out gas and other fossil fuels and replace them with green energy,” climate, energy and critical supplies minister Dan Jørgensen said in a press statement.

The government claims that the measures included in the plan will reduce CO2 emissions by 3.7 million tonnes by 2030.

That represents around one third of the 9.4 million tonnes needed to hit the national target of a 70 percent reduction of total emissions by the end of the current decade.

Specifically, the government proposes a CO2 tax of 750 kroner per tonne of emission. Companies covered by an EU quota system will however receive a deduction and will only be required to pay half of the full amount, 375 kroner per tonne.

According to a government expert advisory board, the five largest CO2-emitting companies in Denmark are responsible for over 40 percent of the country’s industrial emissions.

A number of these companies could be due for additional deductions to the CO2 tax.

Companies in the “mineralogical processing” sector are to be given further discounts on the tax and will only pay 100 kroner per tonne of emissions, according to the proposal. Companies covered by this definition include Aalborg Portland and Rockwool.

“The tax for mineralogical processes etcetera is related to this sector being subject to competition and there is therefore a risk of relocation abroad due to a large tax increase,” the government writes.

“The sector is given a special tax with a natural expectation that genuine reductions towards the 2030 climate target are delivered,” it added.

Seven billion kroner has been set aside under the proposal for investment in green energy in the sector in a bid to reduce its emissions.

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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.