Denmark divided over introduction of new agricultural tax

A recent opinion survey shows that almost half of Danes believe that the recently advocated CO2 reductions should not lead to the closure of agricultural businesses. 44 percent agree that restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions could lead to closures.

But 46 percent disagree. This division is as great among voters of the government parties as among opposition voters.

Danish experts say the country must impose a new nitrogen tax on agriculture otherwise the country will fail to meet international environmental obligations. Denmark would be the first EU country to introduce a greenhouse gas tax.

The Danish experts came up with three variants, ranging from a levy of a few tens of euros to more than a hundred euros per tonne of CO2 emitted, in combination with premiums to modernize the sector. These premiums could be financed with the money from current agricultural subsidies.

In the most far-reaching variant, the tax revenue from the extra surcharge on CO2 pollution will also be used to further make the Danish agricultural sector more sustainable. Within the EU, Denmark is one of the leaders of an active environmental and climate policy, including the Green Deal within agricultural policy.

The CEO of the Danish-Swedish dairy group Arla, Peder Tuborgh, believes that greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved without introducing the controversial CO2 tax. According to the Danish dairy boss, his group has reduced emissions by 1 million tons in the past two years. 

"The only thing the government should do is hold out a carrot to the sector instead of threatening with a stick," Tuborgh said in a major interview in the major Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. 

The director of Arla emphasizes that he fully agrees that agriculture must play its part in Danish CO2 reduction. He encourages the government and the expert committee to learn from the bonus model that Arla introduced last year.  

The think tank Concito, which is part of what is called 'the green triangle consultation' in Denmark, points out that the figures claimed by Arla are not reflected in the climate statistics. Figures from the Energy Agency show that emissions from Danish livestock have been largely unchanged for years. 

'I would like to recognize the work that Arla does, but Danish milk production is not just Arla. The proposed carbon tax is a method to spread it across all Danish farmers, and we need to involve iedereen, think tank economist Torsten Hasforth told Jyllands-Posten.