Norway, western Europe’s largest oil producer, is seeking a new strategy to cut emissions as it falls behind its 2020 climate goals after failing to build a full-scale carbon capture plant.
The country’s Environment Agency last week said that “powerful and quick” cuts are needed to meet a 2020 goal of reducing climate-gas emissions by 30 percent from 1990 levels, two-thirds of which must come domestically. Norway in 2012 emitted 52.7 million tons of carbon equivalents, up 4.6 percent from 1990, according to the Statistics Agency.
“We’re working on better funding for new technologies, more restrictions in certain areas and we’ll outline our strategies later,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said after taking questions after a speech in Oslo today. “After the previous government shut down the Mongstad CCS project, we now have to completely re-evaluate our process.”
Solberg in October took over from the Labor-led government, which last year abandoned a plan to build a carbon capture plant at its Mongstad power plant and refinery after cost overruns and delays. Former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg had described the project as Norway’s “moon landing.”
Solberg was criticized earlier this year for making no mention of climate in the premier’s traditional New Year’s speech. While pro-oil exploration, the Conservative premier last year agreed to extend restrictions on oil and gas activity off the Lofoten islands to secure support in parliament for her minority coalition.
Solberg today reiterated a plan that she would seek to steer more of the nation’s $850 billion sovereign wealth fund’s investing toward renewable energy and sustainable investments.
“This government takes environmental problems very seriously but we need to have a good look at how to address through positive investments in renewable energy in sustainable companies overseas through the fund,” she said. “It’s important that Norway leads the way beyond our borders.”
The plan will be outlined when the government releases a white paper on the fund next month.
Out of Norway’s emissions in 2012, 13.7 million tons came from oil and gas production. That’s up 77 percent from 1990. By contrast, manufacturing industry has lowered emissions by 39 percent and agriculture has cut them by 11 percent.
Rasmus Hansson, who serves as the sole member of parliament for Norway’s Green Party, said the government has so far come up short on plans to help bring down emissions.
While the oil fund initiative is a “great” start, it’s “the only concrete commitment I’ve heard and it will not have any effect whatsoever on Norwegian domestic environmental policies and emissions,” he said answering questions at a conference at City Hall in Oslo. “I haven’t heard a word on the oil sector except that we need to produce oil with the lowest emissions possible, which is not exactly a big commitment.”
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