Denmark has significantly decreased its overall greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. Currently, emissions originating in the agricultural sector are are responsible for over 21% of the country’s overall emissions. This share of emissions has fallen by 16.9% over the period from 1990 to 2015, reflecting major improvements in the agricultural sector. The main policies that Denmark has been relying on over the last decades are the Action Plans for the Aquatic Environment (APAEs) and later in 2009 the Agreement on Green Growth (GGA).
The APAEs strongly regulate agricultural production by setting strict standards for the management and application of slurry and manure, the use of nitrogen fertiliser requiring the planting of catch crops. APAE I and APAE II collectively helped to decrease nitrogen discharge by 49%. While the effects on nitrous oxide emissions were powerful (reduction of 2.2 MtCO2e per year) only minor reductions in methane emissions could be seen. As the APAE III seemed to have no measurable impact on emission reduction, the GGA was launched. The GGA tackle some of the problems encountered in the APAEs and aim to bring together environmental and economic considerations of the agricultural sector. Their main focus is on nitrogen and phosphorous discharges into aquatic environments, renewable energy generation and biogas plants, the organic sector and the reduced use of pesticides.
The agricultural sectors in Denmark and Germany exhibit strong similarities, especially considering economic, structural and political indicators. Comparable measures have been undertaken to decrease nitrogen and phosphorous leaching while maintaining or even increasing agricultural productivity. In Germany the main tool in this context is the Fertiliser Application Regulation (Düngeverordnung), amended in 2017.
The present study examines the transferability of the Danish measures and forms part of a series of publications within the project “Bridging European and Local Climate Action (BEACON)”. As part of this project scientific analyses were conducted of several national policy instruments that have successfully led to greenhouse gas emission reductions in European countries in the buildings, transport, agriculture and small-industry sectors. The analyses particularly focused on the instruments’ effectiveness and their potential transferability to the German context.