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Denmark: rejecting carbon capture and storage policies

In 2008 energy-giant Vattenfall announced plans for a full-scale carbon capture operation at a coal power plant in Denmark, to be ready by 2020. The plan was to transport the carbon dioxide captured to an underground storage 30 km away, via a pipeline.
Denmark: rejecting carbon capture and storage policiesAn anti carbon capture and storage demonstration in Copenhagen.Vattenfall began seismic investigations involving explosions that frightened domestic animals and caused insecurity amongst farmers and citizens who felt they had not been properly informed.

 

Some farmers refused Vattenfall further access to their land. In May 2009, citizens formed a group called ‘Nej til CO2-lagring’, (‘No to CO2-storage’). They contacted Friends of the Earth Denmark/NOAH to draw on their expertise on CCS. The group campaigned with demonstrations, and stalls in the villages as well as lobby and media work.

Late in 2009 Vattenfall announced that they would postpone their CCS plans in Denmark “until the technology is commercially available”. Instead Vattenfall decided to focus on projects in Germany, where they will receive EU-subsidies. But citizens’ resistance in Germany is also strong, and there is now close cooperation between the citizens’ initiatives in the two countries.

 

Anxiety over the possible seepage of carbon dioxide from storage containers has not gone away, despite experts’ assurances that everything will be safe and under control. The public needs to remain vigilant and maintain their resistance, just as they have done with respect to biotechnologies (GMOs) and nuclear technologies. They should not relax their guard if plans are temporarily shelved: the industry and its lobbyists are willing to wait in order to benefit from the enormous capital they are investing in these projects.

 

The ‘No to CO2-storage’ campaign and Friends of the Earth Denmark will continue to work together, on issues such as the amendment of the Subsoil Act, which will implement the European Union’s 2009 directive (Directive 2009/31/EC on the geological storage of carbon dioxide). In March 2011 the Danish Climate and Energy Minister announced that inland CO2-storage will not be permitted before 2020 – a partial victory.

 

“We understood the worry of having to live on top of a CO2-dump and were happy to support them with the means we had. The struggle of these citizens is obviously consistent with the struggle Friends of the Earth Denmark have been waging, trying to open the eyes of politicians and the public to the dangers of developing CCS.”

 

Palle Bendsen, Friends of the Earth Denmark

 

Friends of the Earth Denmark are campaigning for a parliamentary decision that rules out the inclusion of CCS in Denmark’s energy and climate policy for good. Their proposal, made in February 2011, is supported by No to CO2-storage, the Danish Society for Nature Conservation, Greenpeace, SustainableEnergy, The Danish Climate Movement and Bürgerinitiative gegen das CO2-endlager (Northern Germany). It has already attracted support from three political parties in opposition.

 

“We formed our organisation in order to stand stronger. Friends of the Earth Denmark came into the picture because one of us knew someone from the organisation. They gave us good advice and assisted us when we held a public meeting, and since then we have had good cooperation – also around a demonstration. It has been very positive for us to be able to draw on their skills and knowledge. We then feel we are not without means.”

 

Asger Moller Madsen, local farmer and chair of the citizens’ group

 

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