Denmark fails at climate effort

Danish efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emission have failed, European Environment Agency says.

Denmark is expected to fare worse than any other "old" EU country in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report.

In Denmark, carbon dioxide emissions are expected to be 31.3 percent higher in 2010 than promised, government efforts notwithstanding, EEA said.

Former Social Democratic Environment and Energy Minister Svend Auken told Danish engineering magazine Ingeniøren that he found the results deeply worrying.

"If we are to reach the Kyoto-goals, Denmark has to take action right now," he said. "If not, Danish companies and taxpayers must pay gargantuan amounts of money for last-minute projects abroad."

EEA surveys every year whether the European Union is approaching its goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 8 percent in 2008-2012, compared with 1990.

Of EU´s 15 "old" member states, Denmark has the largest deficit, closely followed by Italy, Portugal and Spain.

"The four countries came nowhere near their goals in 2002, and do not seem likely to reach them by combining additional domestic measures with the Kyoto-mechanisms," EEA said in its report.

In April, the future deficit was calculated at 20-25 million tones carbon dioxide. The calculations include planned and already realized domestic initiatives, as well as quotas purchased abroad.

Denmark´s agreements to buy four-million-ton quotas annually place the country´s carbon dioxide emissions at 75 million tones in 2008-2012, instead of the promised 54.5 millions.

Conservative Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard has not commented on the results, but said in a ministry memorandum last month that an updated forecast of the results of government initiatives had not yet been calculated.

An updated forecast is to be issued this year, but purchases of emission quotas are still expected to form a large part of government efforts to bring down Danish emission figures.

"It´s embarrassing and inconsistent with the Kyoto agreement to move such big reductions out of the country," Greenpeace spokesman Tarjei Haaland said. "If countries like Denmark refuse to reduce emissions within their own ranks, it will be almost impossible to get large developing countries like India and China to back up continued climate efforts."

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