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Danmark miljøgrønt eventyrland i New York Times

Af Rune Engelbreth Larsen Udprint

Det er overraskende, men positivt, at statsminister Anders Fogh Rasmussen tilsyneladende ikke alene er indstillet på højere benzinpriser, men ligefrem er parat til at intensivere denne udvikling som den mest effektive måde at stimulere alternative energiformer.

I sin klumme i New York Times har den amerikanske kommentator Thomas L. Friedman således refereret til en samtale med statsministeren, som allerede har vakt nogen forundring i Danmark:

"I have observed that in all other countries, including in America, people are complaining about how prices of [gasoline] are going up," Denmark’s prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told me. "The cure is not to reduce the price, but, on the contrary, to raise it even higher to break our addiction to oil. We are going to introduce a new tax reform in the direction of even higher taxation on energy and the revenue generated on that will be used to cut taxes on personal income — so we will improve incentives to work and improve incentives to save energy and develop renewable energy."

New York Times, 9.8.2008

Det er ikke den eneste regeringsrepræsentant, som i Friedmans klumme kommer til at fremstå som grøn super-idealist - også klimaminister Connie Hedegaard, som påpeger Danmarks globale vindmølle-succes. I det hele taget er Friedman overordentlig begejstret for benzin- og CO2-afgifter, 1970'ernes bilfri søndage, cyklister i regnvejr og toiletter i "to gear", og han tegner et rosenrødt (eller miljøgrønt) billede af landet, som da også må tage sig helt eventyrligt H.C. Andersensk ud i et amerikansk energi-perspektiv:

After appointments here in Copenhagen, I was riding in a car back to my hotel at the 6 p.m. rush hour. And boy, you knew it was rush hour because 50 percent of the traffic in every intersection was bicycles. That is roughly the percentage of Danes who use two-wheelers to go to and from work or school every day here. If I lived in a city that had dedicated bike lanes everywhere, including one to the airport, I’d go to work that way, too. It means less traffic, less pollution and less obesity.

What was most impressive about this day, though, was that it was raining. No matter. The Danes simply donned rain jackets and pants for biking. If only we could be as energy smart as Denmark!

Unlike America, Denmark, which was so badly hammered by the 1973 Arab oil embargo that it banned all Sunday driving for a while, responded to that crisis in such a sustained, focused and systematic way that today it is energy independent. (And it didn’t happen by Danish politicians making their people stupid by telling them the solution was simply more offshore drilling.)

What was the trick? To be sure, Denmark is much smaller than us and was lucky to discover some oil in the North Sea. But despite that, Danes imposed on themselves a set of gasoline taxes, CO2 taxes and building-and-appliance efficiency standards that allowed them to grow their economy — while barely growing their energy consumption — and gave birth to a Danish clean-power industry that is one of the most competitive in the world today. Denmark today gets nearly 20 percent of its electricity from wind. America? About 1 percent. (...)

Energy technology exports rose 8 percent in 2007 to more than $10.5 billion in 2006, compared with a 2 percent rise in 2007 for Danish exports as a whole.

Men tilbage til Fogh - det er som nævnt overraskende, men positivt, at han slår til lyd for stigende benzinpriser og varsler en skattereform, der vil betyde "endnu højere" energiafgifter.

I en tid, hvor vi kan læse historier om, hvordan konsekvenserne af den menneskeskabte globale opvarmning får Antarktis til at smelte på rekordtid, er det naturligvis nødvendigt at sætte effektivt ind, ikke mindst mod bil- og flytrafikken. Brændstofpriserne skal i vejret af hensyn til den globale opvarmning, af hensyn til miljøet i storbyerne og af hensyn til den hensygnende offentlige trafik, så vi kan komme ind i en god cirkel - højere benzinpriser, bedre og billigere offentlig trafik, større tilskyndelse til udvikling af vedvarende energi.

Nu mangler vi blot at se det helt konkrete udspil fra regeringens side. Dansk Folkeparti har allerede undsagt statsministeren, men det burde ikke blive vanskeligt at finde et alternativt flertal, hvis intentionen er reel.

Rune Engelbreth Larsen
Blog: Engelbreth, Politiken.dk, 12.8.2008