Denmark implements world’s first flatulence tax on livestock

Denmark's Bold Move on Methane Image: Shutterstock/ Martina Strihova

Denmark has announced a groundbreaking initiative to impose a carbon tax on livestock farmers, targeting greenhouse gases emitted by cows, sheep, and pigs. This measure, set to begin in 2030, marks Denmark as the first country in the world to introduce such a tax, aiming to tackle methane emissions, a significant contributor to global warming.

Tax Details and Goals

Starting in 2030, Danish livestock farmers will be taxed 300 kroner (€40) per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, with the tax rising to 750 kroner (€100) by 2035. Due to an income tax deduction of 60 per cent, the effective cost will begin at 120 kroner (€16) per ton, increasing to 300 kroner (€40) by 2035. The Danish government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.

Methane’s Impact on Climate Change

Methane, though less often discussed than carbon dioxide, is a potent greenhouse gas, trapping about 87 times more heat over a 20-year period. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration highlights the rapid increase in methane levels since 2020, with livestock responsible for approximately 32 per cent of human-caused methane emissions according to the U.N. Environment Program.

Denmark’s Climate Neutrality Goal

‘We will take a big step closer in becoming climate neutral in 2045,’ stated Taxation Minister Jeppe Bruus, emphasising Denmark‘s leadership in introducing a real CO2 tax on agriculture. Bruus expressed hope that other countries would adopt similar measures.

International Context

Denmark’s initiative contrasts with recent developments in New Zealand, where a similar law set to take effect in 2025 was repealed following a change in government. New Zealand’s new administration decided to exclude agriculture from its emissions trading scheme and explore other methods to reduce methane emissions.

Broad-Based Agreement

The agreement on the carbon tax was reached after extensive negotiations involving the centre-right government, farmer representatives, industry groups, and unions. The Danish Society for Nature Conservation, the largest environmental organisation in Denmark, hailed the agreement as ‘a historic compromise,’ essential for restructuring the food industry beyond 2030.

Livestock Emissions in Denmark

A typical Danish cow produces six metric tons (6.6 tons) of CO2 equivalent annually. While cows are significant contributors to methane emissions, pigs will also be subject to the tax. Denmark, a major exporter of dairy and pork, had approximately 1,484,377 cows as of June 30, 2022, according to Statistic Denmark.

The carbon tax on livestock in Denmark represents a significant step toward mitigating climate change by addressing methane emissions from agriculture. With broad political and societal support, this measure is expected to pass in the Danish parliament and could serve as a model for other nations aiming to reduce their environmental impact.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!


    • Brian

      27 June 2024 • 13:21

      So every animal will have some sort of measuring device fitted to it’s backside?

    • Geoff Brooks

      27 June 2024 • 15:04

      Oh dear. Another agricultural country trying to cripple its agriculture. I thought the UK was on its own but Denmark must have its share of eco nutters. If you thought the world was going mad I’m afraid it has already gone.

    • Linda Roberts

      27 June 2024 • 18:33

      Absolutely madness. My respect for this little country has gone and so will their money. Total madness

    • Andy

      27 June 2024 • 19:46

      So how will we get butter, milk and cheese?

    Comments are closed.