The Danish government and parties in “Green tripartite” agree on a ground-breaking model for a carbon tax on food and agriculture production

Published 02-07-2024

The Danish government and parties from leading industry, agriculture, and environmental organizations present the foundation for a long-term transition of Danish food and agriculture production, including land use. The agreement establishes a framework for reducing carbon emissions from the food and agriculture sector and contributes to realizing the Danish climate target in 2030. Furthermore, efforts will be made to improve conditions within nature, biodiversity, water environment, and drinking water.

Over the next decades, the Danish landscape will change – a result of the Agreement on “a Green Denmark”, which the Danish government and leading industry, agriculture, and environmental organizations presented on Monday, June 24th

The agreement paves the way for a Danish food and agriculture sector that delivers tangible solutions to some of the imposing challenges related to climate mitigation and nature preservation. The parties agree to a historical change in land use making more space for nature and creating better conditions for biodiversity and drinking water preservation.

Furthermore, the parties agree that enabling a just and fast transition to support a strong and competitive food and agriculture sector is crucial. This will ensure attractive jobs and support business opportunities. 

For the first time in history, the agreement also introduces a tax on carbon emissions from livestock. The carbon tax will be introduced in 2030 starting at DKK 300 pr. ton CO2e, increasing to 750 DKK pr. ton CO2e in 2035. However, a base deduction of 60 pct. will be added, which results in an efficient rate of DKK 120 pr. ton CO2e in 2030, increasing to DKK 300 pr. ton CO2e in 2035.   

Additionally, just above DKK 30 billion will be invested in rewetting 140,000 hectares of carbon-rich agricultural land including peripheral areas, and planting 250,000 hectares of new forest. A subsidy scheme of just over DKK 10 billion will also be introduced to support the production of biochar through pyrolysis.

The parties also agree on the necessity of ramping up the efforts to develop and mature new climate technologies and initiatives. Furthermore, their emission reductions must be documented as soon as possible and accounted for in the national emissions inventory.

Finally, the initiatives presented in the agreement will presumably close the emission gap related to the Danish climate target in 2030. Overall, it is estimated that the efforts will reduce Danish emissions by 1.8 to 2.6 million tons of CO2e in 2030. The agreement will be revisited to guarantee the reduction of 2.2 million tons of CO2e in 2030.

The government and parties involved urge the Parliament to support the agreement and approve it as part of the upcoming political process.

Read the agreement and reactions from the partners involved here (in Danish).

A new green area foundation and EU perspectives

During the next decades, the agreement will result in major changes throughout the industry and the Danish landscape, as it, among other things, reimagines land use and management in Denmark. The vision behind the agreement is to spearhead a holistic and multifunctional approach to land management - an approach where nature conservation, biodiversity, and drinking water concerns align with efficient and modern food production. 

A new “green area foundation”, with assets totaling approximately DKK 40 billion, will be established to drive the transformation. Its activities will include areas such as:

  • Afforestation
  • Rewetting of carbon-rich agricultural land
  • Strategic land acquisitions
  • Additional initiatives related to managing nitrogen reductions.

Furthermore, the parties recognize that the transition requires local anchoring, ownership, and a holistic approach. Thus, the agreement introduces a new local organization that provides a strengthened mandate for regional water management committees.

The agreement also discloses the principles to ensure compliance with the EU water framework directive, which requires the coastal waters of Denmark to be brought back in good ecological conditions. This initiative launches a shift in the approach to nitrogen management as it combines regulation with strategic land management, supportive transition, and modern spatial planning. 

"With this agreement, we are changing the map of Denmark. We are creating a greener country with more climate-friendly agriculture, more forests, more nature, and a cleaner water environment. And we are doing it in a Danish way, where all parties have compromised and found long-term solutions. Agriculture is Denmark's largest CO2e emitter. This cannot continue. Therefore, we are the first country in the world to agree on a climate tax and accelerate green initiatives, so we are more confident on our way to achieving the 2030 goal. Now, a significant task lies ahead in realizing the agreement. Agriculture must contribute and be part of the green future. We have now created all the conditions for this, and I hope that the Parliament will support the ambitious solutions and balances agreed upon by Green Tripartite," says Minister for Climate, Energy and Utilities Lars Aagaard.

Facts: Key initiatives in agreement on “a Green Denmark”

  • Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions totaling between 1.8 – 2.6 tons of CO2e in 2030.
  • A carbon tax on emissions from livestock, with an efficient tax increasing from DKK 120 pr. ton CO2e in 2030 to DKK 300 pr. ton in 2035. This includes a base reduction of 60 %.
  • The proceeds from the livestock tax in 2030-31 are returned to the industry through a transition scheme that will strengthen the green transition of the industry. Handling of the proceeds will be revisited in 2032.
  • The establishment of a new green area fund of approximately DKK 40 billion.
  • 250,000 hectares of afforestation, an area equivalent to the size of the islands Lolland-Falster and Bornholm combined.
  • The extraction of 140,000 hectares of carbon-rich agricultural land peripheral areas.
  • A target of at least 20 pct. areas of protected nature. Altogether, the planting of 80,000 hectares of private, undisturbed forest, 20,000 hectares of state forest, and the rewetting of carbon-rich lands will expand the protected nature areas in Denmark considerably.
  • A subsidy scheme for the storage of biochar produced by pyrolysis. The initiative totals approximately DKK 10 billion until 2045.
  • A shift in the approach to nitrogen management, paving the way for compliance with the EU Water Framework Regulation.
  • A fee lifting of slaughterhouses of DKK 45 million annually starting in 2029, as well as setting aside money for reeducation of the workforce with a total amount of DKK 100 million from 2027-2030.

In addition to the government (Socialdemokratiet, Venstre, and Moderaterne), the parties in “Green tripartite” include The Danish Agriculture and Food Council, The Danish Society for Nature Conservation, The Trade Union NNF, The Danish Metal Workers Union, Danish Industry, and KL - Local Government Denmark.

Contact the press offices of the Ministry for Climate, Energy and Utilities on +45 41 72 38 05.