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ENVIRONMENT

Danish region pauses major pollutant cleanup due to lack of funds 

About 100 tonnes of chemical contaminants, including seven tonnes of mercury, are still in the ground in Denmark due to inflation and skyrocketing energy prices. 

Danish region pauses major pollutant cleanup due to lack of funds 
The Høfde 42 area at Harboøre Tange in western Jutland. Removal of pollutants from the area has been postponed due to funding problems. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The Central Jutland regional health administration says is needs extra money from the government and environment ministry to complete a purification of the Høfde 42 chemical depot.

Høfde 42 was the site of industrial and governmental dumping throughout the 1950s and 60s. The cleanup, for which 375 million kroner had been set aside, will now cost an estimated 600 million kroner. 

The regional government of Central Jutland issued an urgent appeal to Parliament and the environment minister in place following the November 1st election for extra funds. 

“We’re in the middle of an election campaign and this is not normally the time to get a minister on the line, but we think there’s no time to waste,” said Anders Kühnau, elected chairman of the Central Jutland regional council, in a press release.

“It’s crucial that a solution is found as soon as possible after the election and we can now ensure a welcoming letter [to the new minister] on the other side of the election,” he said.

The regional council decided two weeks ago to postpone purification at the site, which is located at Harboøre Tange close to the West Jutland coast.

The cleanup project’s caused have far exceeded its original budget due to inflation and high energy costs, Region Central Jutland said.

“We’re really sorry that the process of tackling the country’s biggest and probably most complex pollution has now stalled,” Kühnau said.

“The companies are there and they have the technology to do the job, but now we just don’t have enough money,” he said.

The funding issue could delay the project by 18 months, news wire Ritzau writes. Purification had been slated to begin in late 2023.

READ ALSO: PFAS pollution: what do people living in Denmark need to know? 

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FARMING

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. 

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