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Danish livestock farmers to be taxed for cow and pig-made greenhouse gases

Cows stand in a corral at a Pixley, Calif., dairy farm on Monday, May 20, 2024.
Cows stand in a corral at a Pixley, Calif., dairy farm on Monday, May 20, 2024. Copyright AP
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By Euronews with AP
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The Scandinavian country pitched a 'flatulence tax' scheme, which was met with industry-wide support and is expected to be carried by the national parliament.


Denmark will tax livestock farmers for greenhouse gases emitted by their cows, sheep and pigs from 2030, according to a radical new proposal by the Danish government.

Taxation Minister Jeppe Bruus said the scheme aims to slash Northern European country's greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030.

“We will take a big step closer in becoming climate neutral in 2045,” Bruus said, adding Denmark “will be the first country in the world to introduce a real CO2 tax on agriculture”. He hopes other countries will follow suit.

The deal was reached late on Monday between the centre-right government and representatives of farmers, the industry and unions.

Danish livestock farmers will be taxed 300 kroner (€40.2) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030, and the tax will increase to 750 kroner (€100.5) by 2035.

However, due to a 60% income tax deduction, the actual cost per tonne will start at 120 kroner (€16) and increase to 300 kroner (€40.2) by 2035.

Cows graze in a field in Luncavita, Romania, on May 21, 2019.
Cows graze in a field in Luncavita, Romania, on May 21, 2019.Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.

The tax needs to be approved in the 179-seat parliament, Folketing, but is expected to pass after the broad-based consensus.

The move comes after months of protests by farmers across Europe against climate change mitigation measures and regulations that they say are driving them to bankruptcy.

The Danish Society for Nature Conservation, the largest nature conservation and environmental organisation in Denmark, described the tax agreement as “a historic compromise”.

"We have succeeded in landing a compromise on a CO2 tax, which lays the groundwork for a restructured food industry — also on the other side of 2030,” its head, Maria Reumert Gjerding, said.

The tax is to be approved in the 179-seat Folketing, or parliament, but the bill is expected to pass.

All gassed up

According to the most up-to-date data from Statistic Denmark, there were 1.4 million cows in the Scandinavian country as of June 2022. A typical Danish cow produces about 6 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

Denmark, which is a large dairy and pork exporter, will also tax pigs, but cows produce far higher emissions.

Although carbon dioxide typically gets more attention for its role in climate change, methane traps about 87 times more heat on a 20-year timescale, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Livestock accounts for about 32% of human-caused methane emissions, states the UN Environment Program.

New Zealand passed a similar law to Denmark in 2022, but the legislation was recently scrapped after backlash from the agricultural sector, and the government changed hands in 2023.

New Zealand said it would exclude agriculture from its emissions trading scheme in favour of exploring other ways to reduce methane.

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