Copenhagen gives up on 2025 carbon neutrality target

The city of Copenhagen has given up on a long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

Copenhagen gives up on 2025 carbon neutrality target
The ARC incineration facility in Copenhagen will not receive a state grant to spend on CO2 extraction technology. File photo: Mathias Eis/Ritzau Scanpix

Since 2009, Copenhagen has been vocal about plans to become the first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025, but that goal is now off the table after the Amager Resourcecenter (ARC) incineration plant failed an attempt to reduce its emissions, broadcaster DR reports.

“As things look now, we cannot achieve our ambitious climate target,” the head of the city municipality’s elected technical and environmental committee, Line Barfoed, said to DR on Monday.

Barfoed explained that the ARC plant has not fulfilled criteria set be the Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen) which would have entitled it to state funding for CO2 extraction technology.

The plant is therefore unable to acquire the necessary CO2 extraction technology to bring its emissions down.

Copenhagen mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen also expressed regret over the missed goal but sounded a conciliatory note.

“It’s a shame we won’t reach it by 2025. I’m really sorry about that,” Andersen told DR.

“But that’s not the same as saying we won’t make it in 2026, 2027, or 2028. That’s why we still have hope that we will succeed,” she said. 

According to Andersen, Copenhagen has already slashed CO2 emissions by 80 percent. But 100 percent emissions reduction would require the ARC plant to access parts of an 8-billion-kroner state fund, which would finance the first full-scale CO2 extraction project in Denmark.

According to media Energiwatch, ARC decided against applying for the funding because it does not have enough capital required to meet criteria.

The facility already practices partial, smaller-scale CO2 filtration.

Barfoed criticised parliament and the government for not giving local authorities sufficient resources to hit their climate targets.

“Criteria were made to access state funds for developing CO2 extraction technology, where they knew in advance that the ARC facility in Copenhagen Municipality could not live up to them. We had simply not imagined this,” she said.

“We will keep fighting to go as far as we can with the goals we have set for ourselves,” the city official also said.

In a written comment to DR, climate and energy minister Dan Jørgensen noted that other municipal incineration facilities in Denmark – including nearby Vestforbrændingen in Glostrup – had qualified for the state funding.

“I understand that ARC has been challenged in relation to the criteria for a certain amount of capital. When the state pays out large amounts, it is standard that certain requirements are attached in relation to the companies’ own finances. That also applies in this case,” he said.

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Danish agricultural sector softens stance on emissions tax 

After years of firm opposition to any carbon tax on agriculture, the Danish Agriculture & Food Council (Landbrug & Fødevarer) interest organisation is changing tact on a likely tax on CO2 emissions in the sector.

Danish agricultural sector softens stance on emissions tax 

The organisation is to shift strategy from strongly opposing the tax to participating “constructively within negotiations” on a green agricultural tax reform, newspaper Berlingske reports. 

Despite the organisation’s change in stance, its chairperson Søren Søndergaard said he still maintains that taxing agriculture based on CO2 emissions is not sensible climate politics.

“But there has now been an election and there are [ongoing] negotiations to form a government. We can see that the parties that are close to the negotiations all want a CO2 tax on agriculture,” he told Berlingske.

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council (DAFC) therefore wants a seat at the table when the rules –which it accepts are coming — are set.

It has proposed five principles for reform. According to Berlingske, the principles strongly resemble the organisation’s longstanding arguments against a CO2 tax.

READ ALSO: Denmark proposes uniform CO2 tax for most businesses

Among its principles, DAFC wants to retain the 2021 reduction targets at 5 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030. Politicians are considered likely to push for a more ambitious schedule.

Other items on the organisation’s wishlist are measures to protect competitiveness and relocation of jobs; and a promise that funds collected from a CO2 tax will be reinvested in the food industry. It also wants incentives for farmers and companies.

The Liberal (Venstre) party, which could be part of a future government, was previously against the CO2 tax but has also changed its position.

“You can argue against a tax but you will not win,” Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen told Danish Agriculture & Food Council representative earlier this month.

“It will happen, because there is a majority behind it,” he said.