Danish budget launches chemical tax plan

Governing coalition finalises 2001 package, budget described as "victory for the environment"

Denmark's budget for 2001, agreed between governing coalition parties yesterday after three days of negotiations, was described by the Danish media today as the "reddest" (most left wing) in the nearly eight-year lifetime of the present government and also as "a victory for the environment".

The DKr2.5bn (euros 336m) total includes provisions of DKr244m per year for the next four years earmarked for environmental programmes. These include possible taxes on toxic chemicals, eco-construction projects, green information campaigns and the development of new energy technologies. The state oil and gas company DONG is to contribute about DKr700m out of revenues swollen by high oil prices.

One of the main areas of debate between coalition parties has emerged as a strengthened initiative on hazardous chemicals. The government will now examine the possibilities of imposing taxes on the most hazardous of a list of "unwanted substances" developed by the environmental protection agency (ENDS Daily 2 May).

Work is now to be speeded up so that by 1 March a decision can be made on whether to propose legislation. Among the first products that could be affected by such a system are certain paints and shellacs, printing inks and filler compounds as well as the detergent surfactant LAS, according to Politiken newspaper.

One innovation that has attracted particular media attention is an allowance against household electricity and water taxes. The aim, as interpreted by Politiken newspaper, is to ensure that families are not penalised for their "daily shower and washload of underwear".

Follow Up:
Danish environment ministry, tel: +45 33 92 76 00; Politiken, tel: +45 33 11 85 11.

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