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ENVIRONMENT

Danish government to serve vegetarian food only twice a week

Denmark's government is to force all government canteens to go vegetarian two days a week in a move to reduce national consumption of meat.

Danish government to serve vegetarian food only twice a week
Could this be the future of Danish government canteens? Photo: Olivier Douliery / AFP
According to Green Procurement for a Green Future, a new government procurement strategy announced on Thursday, all state-run kitchens will be required to serve only vegetarian food for two days a week. 
 
“I hope it will go down well with our employees. This is the government's proposal, it is not something we have agreed with others. And of course that is also something we have to discuss with the other political parties,” Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen told state broadcaster DR
 
“Put simply, this is one of the ways in which we can contribute to a smaller climate footprint – by having two days a week, where there is no meat on the menu in the state canteens. The other days you can have meat if you want.” 
 
As well as the two vegetarian days, the government has limited the number of days when beef and lamb can be served to just one a week. 
 
 
The new policy will apply to all the 85,000 people directly employed by the state, and may also apply to the 75,000 people employed in independent government agencies. 
 
The proposal may later be extended to independent institutions such as the train company DSB, schools, kindergartens and universities. 
 
After the announcement, Denmark's agriculture minister Mogens Jensen tweeted that with 800,000 meals served a day in public sector canteens, the decision could make a significant difference. 

 
The proposal has split Denmark, with the populist Danish people's party going so far as to call it “totally un-Danish”, and others complaining that the measure would not apply to canteens in the Danish parliament and ministerial offices, and that the government had not calculated what the impact of the measures would be on public sector emissions. 
 
“I'll eat whatever food's going, but I feel very irritated that someone wants to decide what kind of food that is,” said René Christensen, leader of the Danish parliament's environment and food committee. “It's totally un-Danish that others are going to decide what we eat for lunch.” 
 
 
Morten Messerschmidt, the party's vice chairman said that the proposals would even inspire him to eat more meat. 
 
“It's one thing for people to want to be vegans and vegetarians, and another thing to force people to,” he said. “I really think it's crazy.” 
 
On the other side, Carl Valentin, green spokesman for the Socialist Left party celebrated the decision. 
 
“It's simply so important to have two vegetarian days in state canteens,” he said. “To get our enormous meat use on the agenda has not been easy, but now we're moving.” 
 

 
Sikandar Siddique, leader of the Free Greens, said that the proposal was too unambitious. It whouldn't only be in government canteens, but all public sector ones, including schools and kindergartens.
 
Rita Bundgaard, chairman of HK Stat, which represents 23,000 government employees, complained about the proposal. 
 
“I cannot understand why we should be forced to have Tuesday and Thursday as green days, and then fish on Wednesdays. After all, I end up asking for a steak when I want to have a steak. I think I should have the opportunity to choose and combine what I put on my lunch plate, and I think everyone should be allowed to.” 
 
 
 
 
 

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ALMEDALEN 2022

Green Party leader: ‘Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament’

Per Bolund, joint leader of Sweden's Green party, spoke for thirteen and a half minutes at Almedalen before he mentioned the environment, climate, or fossil fuels, in a speech that began by dwelling on healthcare, women's rights, and welfare, before returning to the party's core issue.

Green Party leader: 'Right-wing parties want to push us out of parliament'

After an introduction by his joint leader Märta Stenevi, Bolund declared that his party was going into the election campaign on a promise “to further strengthen welfare, with more staff and better working conditions in healthcare, and school without profit-making, where the money goes to the pupils and not to dividends for shareholders”. 

Only then did he mention the party’s efforts when in government to “build the world’s first fossil-free welfare state”. 

“We know that if we want welfare to work in the future, we must have an answer to our time’s biggest crisis: the threat to the environment and the climate,” he said.

“We know that there is no welfare on a dead planet. We need to take our society into a new time, where we end our dependency on oil, meet the threat to the climate, and build a better welfare state within nature’s boundaries, what we call a new, green folkhem [people’s home].” 

He presented green policies as something that makes cities more liveable, with the new sommargågator — streets pedestrianised in the summer — showing how much more pleasant a life less dependent on cars might be.  

He then said his party wanted Sweden to invest 100 billion kronor a year on speeding up the green transition, to make Sweden fossil fuel-free by 2030. 

“We talk about the climate threat because it’s humanity’s biggest challenge, our biggest crisis,” he said. “And because we don’t have much time.” 

In the second half of his speech, however, Bolund used more traditional green party rhetoric, accusing the other political parties in Sweden of always putting off necessary green measures, because they do not seem urgent now, like a middle-aged person forgetting to exercise. 

“We know that we need to cut emissions radically if we are even going to have a chance of meeting our climate goal, but for all the other parties there’s always a reason to delay,” he said. 

“We are now seeing the curtain go up on the backlash in climate politics in Sweden. All the parties have now chosen to slash the biofuels blending mandate which means that we reduce emissions from petrol and diesel step for step, so you automatically fill your tank in a greener way. Just the government’s decision to pause the  reduction mandate will increase emissions by a million tonnes next year.” 

The right-wing parties, he warned, were also in this election running a relentless campaign against the green party. 

“The rightwing parties seem to have given up trying to win the election on their own policies,” he said. “Trying to systematically push out of parliament seems to be their way of trying to take power. And they don’t seem above any means. Slander campaigns, lies, and false information have become every day in Swedish right-wing politics.” 

He ended the speech with an upbeat note. 

“A better, more sustainable world is possible. There is a future to long for. If you give us a chance then that future is much closer than you think!”

Read the speech here in Swedish and here in (Google Translated) English. 

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