Denmark shifts on industrial climate gases

Ruling parties agree to delay legal phase-out dates, introduce high tax rates from next year

Denmark's governing coalition parties have pushed back proposed bans on most uses of industrial greenhouse gases by up to four years, but agreed to impose high taxes on their use from next year. The move came during finalisation of the country's 2001 budget earlier this week (ENDS Daily 6 November).

Denmark has taken a strong lead on regulating the three industrial greenhouse gases, launching Europe's first "comprehensive plan" for completely ending their use earlier this year (ENDS Daily 24 January). Emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) account for 1% or less of most countries current total greenhouse gas emissions, but levels would rise without controls.

Denmark's original proposals for phasing out the gases envisaged cut-off dates starting in 2002 for domestic refrigerators and freezers and running to 2006 for just a few applications. Under the new plan, there will instead be a uniform phase-out date of 2006, with the exception of SF6-use in sport shoes, which will be banned in 2003.

Meanwhile, all uses of the gases will be taxed from next March based on their global warming potential, at a rate of DKr100 (euros 13.4) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Because the industrial gases all have global warming potential much higher than carbon dioxide - for example HFC 134a is 1,300 times higher - the taxes will be significant; DKr130 per kilogram in the case of HFC 134a, according to the Danish environmental protection agency (EPA).

The EPA believes that the taxes will have a strong impact on potential users, so that the new policy will achieve equally fast reductions in emissions and with greater economic efficiency. Greenpeace Denmark, however, has criticised the policy switch.

Follow Up:
Danish EPA, tel: +45 32 66 01 00; Greenpeace Denmark, tel: +45 33 93 86 60.

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