Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

A broad-based agreement on the green transition of Danish agriculture falls into place

On 4 October 2021, the long-awaited agreement on the green transition of Danish agriculture fell into place. The broad-based agreement is backed by Danish politicians across the political spectrum.

Agreement will support the green transition of the agricultural and forestry sector
The key message of the agreement is to ensure that agriculture contributes to Denmark reducing its overall carbon footprint by 70% by 2030 and to being carbon neutral by 2050. The agreement sets the framework conditions for how Denmark’s agricultural sector can succeed in achieving its stipulated target of 55-65% by 2030 as compared to emissions in 1990. There is special focus on the further development of the industry, driving green investment, research, and the transition to more climate and environmental-friendly agriculture that is also economically sustainable. This will help to ensure the survival of existing jobs and the creation of new ones in the long term.

Seven points to ensure the green future of agriculture

  1. Agriculture must be developed and not phased out
  2. Agriculture must be transformed into being more climate and environmental-friendly as well as economically sustainable
  3. Agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced as much as possible with due regard for the continued sustainable development of the industry and its competitiveness, sound public finances, employment, cohesion and social balance.
  4. Nutrient discharge must be reduced in order to improve the aquatic environment
  5. Agricultural production must take account of nature and biodiversity
  6. Agriculture must be assured of sustainable framework conditions and that jobs will be retained throughout Denmark
  7. Agriculture must continue to create jobs and contribute to the production of good, healthy, climate and environmental-friendly food products and thus maintain its significant position in Danish exports.

The agreement’s key points and challenges
However, the agricultural agreement still has questions to answer. Overall, the agreement shows how agriculture can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 7.4 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030. However, the agreement’s specific initiatives only ensure a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030. The ambition is to achieve a reduction of 8 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030, which is why a progress assessment will be carried out in 2023. It is hoped that many of the unknown factors can be solved through research. The agreement must also support the development of new technology that will provide solutions to how further reductions can be achieved. Some DKK 575 million has been earmarked for the development and demonstration of new technologies and around DKK 3.8 billion of government funds will be put towards agriculture’s green transition.

The Chairman of the Danish Agriculture & Food Council welcomes the new agreement
"It’s something of a victory that the parties have prioritised more money for green investments rather than a redistribution of existing funds, which will make a real difference to the work we’re doing. To be quite honest, we’re sorry that the voluntary withdrawal of low-lying land is still partly financed by EU funds. We got it reduced from almost three billion to almost one billion Tonnes, but I would have liked the final figure to have been a straight zero,” says Søren Søndergaard, Chair-man of the Danish Agriculture & Food Council.

DAFC’s climate vision’s was ready in 2019
The Danish food sector has a vision to be C02 neutral by 2050. In close collaboration with politicians, scientists and other stakeholders in Denmark and in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals, Denmark will help to pave the way for the sustainable funding of climate-neutral food production. This vision was already announced by the Danish Agriculture & Food Council in 2019. DAFC represents Danish farmers and food production companies throughout Denmark.

The climate neutral vision will be achieved in partnership with stakeholders in Denmark and will require significant investment in research and development. Research is currently being carried out into the potential for withdrawing low-lying agricultural land and carbon-rich soil from production to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It has already been established that new technology can also reduce emissions from pig housing units.

Nevertheless, the search for solutions to solve the future challenges continues and we need to strengthen our collaboration with universities, the agricultural sector, companies and the government.

Facts about DAFC’s 2050 climate vision:

1) We’ll be active in the field – we know that crop production is where the greatest reduction potential is found and we will deploy already well-established measures.
2) We’ll be active in our energy work – Biogas plants convert livestock manure and organic waste into energy and environmental-friendly fertilisers and reduce methane and nitrous oxide loss.
3) We’ll be active in the cowshed – By adding fat to cow feed, the cow releases less methane into the environment
4) We’ll be active in pig housing units – work to change the way pig manure is treated can reduce emissions from pig units. Regular discharge from finisher units can reduce emissions by approximately 22%.

Read more: Climate neutral food products by 2050

Søren Søndergaard
 Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council
Søren Søndergaard
Chairman, Danish Agriculture & Food Council