Danish party calls for ‘green restart’ after coronavirus crisis

The Danish government's main supporting party has called for a "green restart" to the country's economy, with investments in heat pumps, charging stations for cars, new rail projects and incentives for replacing oil and gas boilers.

Danish party calls for 'green restart' after coronavirus crisis
A Nissan Leaf loading at a Clever loading point last year. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix
“We need a green restart, so that the health crisis doesn't turn into a deep economic crisis, and so that the battle against the climate crisis does get left behind and forgotten,” Morten Østergaard, leader of the Social Liberal party said on Twitter. 
“If the restart of Denmark is to be green, now is the time to decide,” he later told TV2
The party played a key role after last summer in pushing the ruling Social Democrats into setting a goal of reducing  carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030, one of the most ambitious in Europe. 
On Thursday, it proposed 13 green initiatives that it believes will help kickstart the Danish economy when it comes off life support after Easter, at the same time as bringing the country closer to meeting its challenging green target. 
Morten Østergaard in Denmark's parliament on Thursday. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix
The plans to relaunch Denmark's economy with a wave of public investment echo those floated by the opposition Liberal Party on Wednesday. 
The party's leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen called for billions of kroner to be spent on infrastructure, public housing and offshore wind turbines. 
“We believe that these things can just as well be brought forward, so that many of the companies that have empty order books these days can get started,” Ellemann-Jensen said. 
Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen told TV2 that he would not reveal which, or any, of the proposals he might back until after the government had presented its own relaunch package. 
Among the Social Liberal party's proposals are: 
  • Spending 18.4bn kroner on making Denmark's housing greener and more energy efficient. 
  • Public funding for expanding the country's network of charging points for electric cars 
  • Eliminating tax on selling surplus heat from industrial processes, making it more attractive to capture and sell to public heating utilities. 
  • Spending 200m kroner on installing heat pumps, and setting up subsidies for disposing of oil and gas boilers. 
  • A 500m fund to speed the rapid phase out of coal. 
  • Funds for a high-speed rail connection between Ringsted and Odense, and upgrading the railway on the western side of Funen. 

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Norway business sees ‘huge opportunity’ in green transition

Three-quarters of the leaders of big Norwegian companies now believe that the transition to a green economy represents a significant business opportunity, a new survey has found.

Norway business sees 'huge opportunity' in green transition
Sverre Overå, project director for Northern Lights, in front of the Northern Lights template. (Photo: Arne Reidar Mortensen)
When the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise polled business leaders ahead of its annual conference next month, 74 percent of those leading companies with more than 100 employees said they saw opportunities in the coming green transformation. 
“Carbon capture and storage is one example. You also see investments in batteries, hydrogen and offshore wind,” the lobby group's chief executive, Ole Almlid, told state broadcaster NRK
“I hope we end up remembering 2020 as the year when Norwegian business and industry finally properly understood the great opportunities that lie in climate change.” 
Almlid said that the coronavirus crisis promised to accelerate the shift, with 30 percent of the European Union's €750 billion coronavirus recovery package going towards European Green Deal projects. 
“The restructuring will go much faster, because it comes after such a crisis, and then it will go much more in the direction of a greener business community,” he said. 
NRK cites the the US aluminium producer Alcoa as a company which could benefit, with Norway well positioned to lead the shift towards zero-carbon aluminium. 
“We have two competitive advantages: We often have low prices for electricity, and we produce clean aluminium. We use renewable electricity from water and wind. The rest of the world mostly uses gas and coal,” said Ole Løfsnæs, who leads the confederation's energy department. 
Alcoa is working on a revolutionary smelting technology which would use renewable electricity rather than coke. 
On December 15th, the Norwegian Government announced its decision to fund the Northern Lights project, which will see 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 stored per year in a depleted gas field in the Northern North Sea. 
Across the border in Sweden, big industry is already pushing ahead, with state-owned iron ore producer LKAB planning to invest 400bn Swedish kronor (€40bn) over the next 15–20 years to switch its entire production from iron ore pellets to hydrogen-reduced sponge iron. 
This would preventing LKAB’s customers from releasing 35m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. 
Together with steel producer SSAB, LKAB aims to set up demonstration plant which by 2026 will produce one million tonnes of zero-carbon sponge iron.