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Denmark signals support for zero-emissions zones in cities

A new proposal presented by the government on Wednesday could give local authorities the ability to designate zero-emissions zones in cities.

Denmark signals support for zero-emissions zones in cities
Parking spaces at a charging point in Aalborg. The sign reads "reserved for electric cars". File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The zones would only allow access to vehicles without combustion engines, such as electric cars.

Wednesday’s government proposal states that there is already demand at municipalities for zero-emissions zones in set parts of cities in order to reduce air and noise pollution.

The government said it wants to accommodate that demand while still enabling people to live, move around and shop in the zones.

“The government will therefore look closely at whether affected residents and businesses in the area have realistic alternatives and that there would be time to meet the criteria,” the government writes in the proposal.

“A framework must also be set to ensure access for necessary use of industrial vehicles, including delivery of goods,” it adds.

A long period of transition would be required in municipalities that decide to take up the option of establishing the zones, according to interest groups for the automotive industry.

Goods vehicles could be amongst those to face the largest obstacles in such a situation, as the range on zero emissions goods vehicles on the market is limited, according to the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI).

“That means it would be difficult to ensure supply to cities where the requirement for zero emissions might be effective,” DI’s CEO Lars Sandahl Sørensen said via written comment.

The association for car importers in Denmark, De Danske Bilimportører, said that the zones would be difficult to implement without a long phasing-in.

“The proposal for zero emissions zones in particular is very far reaching and can hardly be implemented without a long phasing in period, as the range of electric and hydrogen cars with sufficient range should be greater,” the organization’s CEO Mads Rørvig said in a statement.

FDM, an association for motorists in Denmark, went further in its criticism of the plan.

“It’s far too early and disproportionate to have zero-emissions zones that would exclude 98 percent of Danish motorists,” FDM senior consultant Dennis Lange said in a written comment.

“This is a symbolic policy which will have no measurable effect on pollution,” he added.

READ ALSO: Lower Danish taxes backed for home electric car charging

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ENVIRONMENT

Sweden Democrat slammed for denying climate crisis in parliament

The new Sweden Democrat MP Elsa Widding has been attacked as "shameful" and "deplorable", for denying the climate crisis in her maiden speech in the country's parliament.

Sweden Democrat slammed for denying climate crisis in parliament

In her speech, Widding, a civil engineer educated at Chalmers University of Technology, said that a warming planet would have advantages as well as disadvantages, and that there was no clear scientific backing for the climate crisis. 

“I believe that there is a lack of scientific evidence for saying that we find ourselves in a climate crisis,” she said. “The last time that was the case was in the 1960s when summers either stopped or became so short that we couldn’t produce a harvest.” 

She claimed that every piece of action Sweden is taking to combat climate change is simply “gesture politics”, and that even if Sweden cut its greenhouse gas emissions to zero, it would only shave 0.0027˚C from global temperatures. She called for an end to the “religion” of climate policy and campaigning. 

Markus Selin, an MP for the Social Democrats called Widding’s statement “deplorable” and said he was “ashamed” to hear it. 

“Just 24 hours ago we stood and listened to Ulf Kristersson here in the parliament’s chamber talk far and wide about climate efforts and the Paris Agreement, and now we are hear 24 hours later listening to the biggest party backing his government chirping up and saying we should drop all the work to get our planet out of the dirt.” 

Annie Lööf, leader of the Centre Party, called Widding’s statement “embarrassing”. 

“That the Sweden Democrats are climate change deniers is nothing new,” she said, saying that it was the Moderates, Christian Democrats, and Liberals who were really to blame for giving the party real political power. 

“Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals – how could you let the party of climate deniers get all the way into the government offices?”

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