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Denmark Implementing Novel Tax on Farm Emissions

Bloomberg’s Sanne Wass reported Monday that “Denmark will introduce a levy on farm emissions in what is set to be one of the world’s first carbon taxes on agriculture, helping the Nordic nation reach its 2030 climate target with backing from key industry and environmental groups.”

Farmers will be taxed 300 kroner ($43) per ton of CO2 equivalent emitted from 2030, the government said on Monday,” according to Wass’ reporting. “Five years later, the tax will rise to 750 kroner per ton, though farmers will benefit from higher tax deductions. …Denmark’s plan is estimated to reduce emissions by 1.8 million ton of CO2 in 2030, enabling the country to meet its target for that year to cut emissions by 70%,” Wass reported. “Apart from the tax, the government will also introduce subsidies worth 40 billion kroner to support the transition.”

How Will Emissions be Calculated?

The Copenhagen Post’s Lena Hunter reported in late February that “one of the reasons a tax of this kind is considered administratively complex in the European conversation is that it’s impossible to directly measure emissions from farm units.”

“A farm’s CO2e emissions must be calculated via other means – but in Denmark, the way to this is already paved,” Hunter reported. “Danish farmers are obliged to report the number and types of animals that they cultivate as part of national food security regulations – figures which can be used to calculate methane emissions. Nitrogen is also regulated; farmers already supply authorities with detailed information on their use of nitrogen via manure and fertiliser.”

“‘Combining this information with the emission-measuring methods in our national industry, we can actually account for emissions from individual farm units. So we expect the additional administrative burden on farmers will be minimal,’ said (former chairman of the Climate Council Peter) Birch-Sørensen,” according to Hunter.

Farmers Concerned Tax Could Cut Production

Reuters’ Isabelle Yr Carlsson reported in February that Danish farmers have previously “voiced concerns that plans to levy a carbon emission tax on farming as part of efforts to meet Denmark’s ambitious climate goals would force them to reduce production and close farms. …Such a measure would also mean higher costs for farmers and as a consequence reduce production by as much as one-fifth, a government-commissioned group said in a report.”

“‘These models are based on something very disappointing, namely that climate reduction can only come by reducing production,’ Peder Tuborgh, CEO of dairy producer Arla Foods,” said, according to Carlsson’s reporting. “Tuborgh said new technologies had helped Arla’s 9,000 farmers in Denmark, Sweden, England, Germany and Benelux reduce emissions by 1 million tons in the last two years.”

Environmental Groups Mostly Supportive

Hunter reported in late February that “Greenpeace Denmark advocated for ‘the most ambitious tax’ on farming. Campaign manager for agriculture, nature and forests Christian Fromberg called the proposals ‘fair’.”

“Denmark’s largest business organisation Dansk Industri took a cautious stance towards the highest tax, stressing that domestic production must be safeguarded,” Hunter reported. “…Industry organisation Dansk Metal, on the other hand, chimed in that the level of CO2 tax in agriculture should be the same as for Denmark’s other production industries.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the Farm Policy News editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism). He can be reached at

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