Truck Blockades Over ‘Green’ Tax Wreak Havoc on Danish Roads

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green tax, road tax, danish state finances, truck blockades, green conversion

green tax, road tax, danish state finances, truck blockades, green conversion

While the Danish state has framed the new road tax as a way of hastening the so-called green conversion, critics, ranging from truckers themselves to opposition parties, see it as a ploy of the cash-strapped government to earn some extra money.

A wave of protests against the government’s plans to introduce a “green” road tax has swept Denmark, with trucks blocking roads across the Nordic country.

The planned tax will see heavy trucks running on diesel or petrol charged a “green” tax on a per-kilometre basis.

Despite the fact that the planned demonstration was formally canceled at the end of last week, a significant number of drivers decided to go ahead with the plans to set up blockades on roads nonetheless, which led to dozens of charges.

Some of the country’s most important roads, including those leading from the border with Germany on the Jutland Peninsula and those in the capital area, were affected. A number of trucks even appeared near the walls of the Christianborg Palace, the former home of kings and queens which now houses the Danish Parliament and the Supreme Court.

While the blockades can appear and disband at short notice, the demonstrations were in breach of Danish traffic laws, the police said in a statement, adding that the protests “cause danger of considerable disruption of public order.” In total, Monday’s protests led to 55 charges and 114 injunctions.

Erik Ostergaard of the Danish truck drivers’ union DTL said the union didn’t support illegal protests, but argued that there was understanding among the public regarding drivers’ opposition to the kilometer-based tax.

“Everyone has realised this has nothing to do with the green conversion. This is about the state earning some extra cash,” he told Danish media.

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By contrast, labor market researcher Laust Hogedahl from Aalborg University stressed that the protests were “not a normal sight” in Denmark and went so far as to call them “un-Danish,” venturing that they may cost the movement public support. He stressed that the Danish way implies the protection of the collective interest, and activities such as lobbying rather than individual action. Bent Greve of Roskille Univeristy stressed that “there is no tradition in Denmark of bending to demonstrations.”

The deal to introduce the green tax was struck last year by a parliamentary majority which at that time included the single-party government led by the Social Democrats, as well as their left-wing allies. While since then the government has expanded to incorporate the fiscally more conservative Liberals and Moderates, it intends to proceed with the green tax as planned to reach the climate goals. Tax Minister Jeppe Bruus assured that while the government is “listening a lot to the criticism and concerns that have been expressed,” it is “not going to withdraw the proposal.”

However, Pernille Vermund, the leader of the opposition New Right, stressed that the switch to electric trucks is unrealistic at the moment.

“This has nothing to do with the green transition. This is why the truckers are protesting. They want to impose a tax on them at a time when there is no possibility for them to run on either hydrogen or electricity,” Vermund told Danish media.

A meeting between DTL representatives, Transport Minister Thomas Danielson and Tax Minister Jeppe Bruus to discuss the planned tax and the demonstrations has been negotiated.

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The kilometre-based tax will be charged on heavy goods vehicles from 2025 at a rate of DKK 1.30 ($0.19) per kilometer. The formal purpose of the tax is to pressure the heavy traffic into a green transition in a bid for Denmark to reach the climate target of a 70 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

In yet another unpopular move, the Danish government recently abolished the centuries-old Christian holiday called Great Prayer Day, ostensibly to replenish the state finances that are running dry.





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