Denmark: We can slash CO2 by 70% in a decade and still have welfare

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark said on Tuesday that it could reach its 2030 climate target of reducing emissions by 70%, one of the world’s most ambitious, without compromising its generous welfare benefits.

Last year, parties across the aisle passed a law committing Denmark to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from 1990 levels, or around 20 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, within 10 years.

In a climate plan published on Tuesday, the government estimated that the annual cost of implementing the shift to greener technologies would rise to 16-24 billion Danish crowns ($2.5-$3.7 billion) by 2030 - or 0.7%-1.0% of gross domestic product.

“Our ambitious climate goals are not without costs, but with a wise approach, the bill can be made smaller and managed so that we can afford both climate and welfare,” Climate Minister Dan Joergensen said in a statement.

Initiatives launched in the last year will cut around 5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, the government said.

It said another 9-16.5 million tonnes could be cut by using new technologies such as carbon capture storage and ‘power-to-X’ - converting surplus electricity, usually from renewable sources such as wind, plentiful in Denmark, by using it to produce storable substances or fuels such as hydrogen or methane.

Levies on carbon emissions, unpopular among businesses, will be negotiated later this year, the government said.

The Danish Council on Climate Change, an independent adviser to the government, recommends sharply increasing the current carbon tax to get Denmark to meet its target.

($1 = 6.3689 Danish crowns)

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Kevin Liffey