Denmark Becomes The First Country To Introduce A Carbon Tax For Livestock Emissions

Denmark Becomes The First Country To Introduce A Carbon Tax For Livestock Emissions - Carbon Herald
Credit: Suvrajit 💭 S | Unsplash

Denmark has made history this week and took a bold step in reducing the country’s emissions, setting an example for the rest of the world. Denmark became the first country globally to introduce a carbon tax for livestock emissions, in an attempt to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from 1990 levels by 2030, according to Taxation Minister Jeppe Bruus.

The country will start charging livestock farmers for the greenhouse gasses emitted by their cows, sheep and pigs from 2030, starting with 300 kroner ($43) per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030 and increasing the tax to 750 kroner ($108) by 2035. However, due to a 60% floor deduction, the actual carbon tax would be 120 kroner ($17) in 2030 and 300 kroner ($43) by 2035. 

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As emissions per cow are calculated at 6 metric tons (6.6 tons) of CO2 equivalent annually, the new tax translates into a charge of $96.50 per cow. Denmark is one of the largest dairy and pork exporters in the EU with emissions from the agricultural sector coming at 22.4% of the country’s total carbon emissions. About 90% of that comes from livestock breeding. 

“As Minister of Taxation, I am proud that the green tripartite is today presenting an agreement that contains an ambitious CO2e tax on Danish agriculture. With the agreement, we will reach our climate goals in 2030, and we will take a big step closer to becoming climate neutral in 2045. We will be the first country in the world to introduce a real CO2e tax on agriculture… The agreement shows how much we can achieve when we come together across party colors and interests to find joint solutions to one of the biggest challenges of our time,” commented Tax Minister Jeppe Bruus. 

The emission reduction of that government initiative is targeted at 1.8 million tons of CO2e by 2030, with a potential of reduction of up to 2.6 million tons. 

Apart from tax levy on livestock emissions, the Danish agricultural plan also includes:

  • Conversion of 15% of Danish agricultural land to forests and nature areas. The government is setting aside 30 billion kroner ($2.8bn) for the agricultural land conversion which would create 250,000 hectares of new forests planted by 2045.
  • A biochar subsidy scheme: the scheme is worth over 10 billion kroner ($940 million) up to 2045 for biochar storage produced through pyrolysis.
  • The government is expanding protected areas – it is aiming for at least 20% protected nature, establishing at least 80,000 hectares of private untouched forest and 20,000 hectares of state forest. 

The move is considered “a historic compromise that sets a completely new direction for land use”, according to Maria Reumert Gjerding, president of the Danish Society for Nature Conservation. It comes at a time when farmers have been protesting across Europe against EU environmental measures that are potentially putting them out of business, which is a major win for the Danish government and climate change action.

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“We are making room for more national parks, significantly more untouched forest, and much more protected nature. We are creating a roadmap for how all 109 water bodies will be healthy and initiating concrete measures for them,” commented Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke.

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