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Cow farts taxed in Denmark

by David Masters
February 13, 2009

Farmers in Denmark could end up being taxed for the greenhouse gas emissions produced by their cows and pigs following new proposals from the country’s tax authorities.

The Denmark Tax Commission estimates that each cow produces around 4 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year – 1.3 tonnes more than the average passenger car.

Cows release methane from their stomach gases via burps and flatulence – a gas that is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere.

Danish farmers, however, aren’t too impressed at the proposals.

Steen Nørgaard, a farmer near Holstebro in Jutland, said the tax would increase his costs by one million Danish kronor every year.

“Cows burp and emit gas from the other end irrespective of whether there is a tax or not,” Nørgaard said.

“The idea with a tax is to change behaviour and reduce emissions of a gas. But the animals don’t care two hoots.”

Danish researchers are currently working out why cows have such high greenhouse gas emissions by studying the digestion habits of low-emission kangaroos.

Cow farmers in Estonia are already taxed for the methane produce by their animals.

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