New EU climate quotas could result in fewer Danish farm animals

Denmark will struggle to reduce its emissions by 39 percent by 2030

The Danish agriculture sector will be forced to reduce its number of cows and pigs if Denmark hopes to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to the new EU standards, according to experts.

Jørgen E Olsen, a professor at Aarhus University and member of the Climate Commission and the Nature and Agriculture Commission, contends there is no other way for Denmark to reduce its emissions by 39 percent by 2030.

“I can’t see where we can get 39 percent without cutting down on agriculture production,” Olsen told Ingeniøren newspaper.

Olsen estimated that new research had the potential to bring emissions down by 20 percent, but that further reductions would have to be found elsewhere. Amongst Danish livestock, cows would be first on the block because they produce most of the methane.

Olsen pointed to four areas where the agriculture sector can cut its emissions: by reducing the number of organic soil areas, increasing the use of biogas, establishing so-called nitrification inhibitors for fertiliser, and adding enzymes or other additives to animal feed to make the cows release less methane.

The professor also blasted the EU for comparing agriculture with transport and housing and for its method of regulation.

“The rich nations, where agriculture is already effective, were given the biggest burdens,” he said.

“The EU demands most from nations that have the toughest time living up to them. It’s a hopeless way to regulate.”

READ MORE: Danish Parliament approves controversial agriculture package

Punishing the best
Agriculture advocacy organisation Landbrug og Fødevarer (L&F) argued that Danish agriculture has come a long way in recent years and there are limits on how far it can be stretched.

“We don’t buy the premise of fewer farm animals,” said Jens Astrup Madsen, an L&F spokesperson. “We have reduced our emissions by 20 percent since 1990.”

“Denmark is among the best nations so it’s grotesque to potentially move food production away from Denmark, where it is very climate-friendly, to other nations where emissions will be considerably greater. We want to maintain our production in Denmark and possibly be able to expand it.”