Denmark should aim to reduce beef and dairy production by levying an emissions tax on farming of DKK 750 (€100.74) per tonne in order to reach its ambitious climate targets, the government's independent adviser said.
Such a tax on farming will increase the incentive for farmers to switch to crops and pork production which emit less greenhouse gases than cattle, according to a report by the Danish Climate Council, which provides recommendations to the government.
The new government said in December it sees an emissions tax on farming as crucial to achieving a binding target of reducing CO2 emissions by 70% of 1990 levels.
Emissions from belching cows are a major component of agricultural methane. If no new policies are introduced, farming in Denmark is expected to account for around 40% of emissions in 2030, the council says. The sector currently accounts for 28% of emissions, according to Statistics Denmark.
A carbon tax of DKK 750 per tonne would be similar to the level for other industries which was agreed by parliament in June last year, though a farming lobby group has warned it would lead to a wave of bankruptcies among farmers.
Such a tax would "move jobs abroad and prevent Denmark from developing the solutions that can really make a difference to the climate," said Niels Peter Norring, head of climate at Danish Agriculture & Food Council.
The industry should look into alternative solutions like cattle feed additives, which could lower the amount of methane released from cows by 25% to 30%, he said.