SusNordic news archive
Danish municipalities to save more energy
The Danish Association of Local Authorities has signed an agreement with the Minister of Transport and Energy, under which the municipalities will implement the same guidelines for energy efficiency efforts as central government. This means, among other things, that all energy efficiency measures with a payback time of five years or less should be carried out.
Read more (Danish)
Solheim takes over Environment portfolio in Norway
As part of a Cabinet reshuffle in Norway, Development Minister Erik Solheim (Socialist Left) has taken over the Environment portfolio previously held by Ms. Helen Bjørnøy. He thus becomes the country’s first Minister for Environment and Development, 20 years after the Brundtland Commission presented its report showing the interdependence of the two issues.
Minister's official bio - "Aftenposten" news story
More nuclear reactors for Finland?
Three companies - Fortum, Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) and Fennovoima - are now independently exploring the possiblity of building new nuclear reactors in Finland. Proposals from Fortum and TVO are already in the first stage of review by the authorities - a process that will take two years. Meanwhile, Minister of Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen has stated that Finland must shortly stop using coal and oil to generate heat and electricity. Finland currently has four reactors and a fifth nearing completion. They provide about a quarter of the country's power, while coal and oil provide one-sixth.
Read more (Swedish) [13.10.07]
Fuel prices in Iceland amoung world's highest
Iceland has the world's most expensive diesel fuel and the third most expensive petrol, surpassed only by Turkey and Eritrea, according to a survey of 170 countries. The survey, carried out by the Gesellschaft für technische Zusammenarbeit of Germany, reflects prices at the end of 2006. All five Nordic countries were among the 20 with the highest fuel prices. Norway ranked just below Iceland, with Denmark a few places further down, while Sweden had the cheapest petrol and Finland the cheapest diesel of the Nordic countries. Both Finland, Norway and Sweden intend increase fuel taxes further from 1 January.
Iceland Review story - Source document
Norway ups emissions taxes, climate spending
Presenting her 2008 budget to the Storting yesterday, Norwegian Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen claimed the climate change was the No.1 issue to be addressed. Following on the recent examples of Finland and Sweden, the tax on diesel fuel will be increased, as will taxes on heating oil and domestic aviation fuel. Investments in rail infrastructure will grow, NOK 500 million (€ 65 mn) will be allocated to buy emissions reductions abroad and NOK 1.1 bn to carbon capture and storage. Although funding for Enova, the state enterprise charged with promoting renewables and energy efficiency, will grow from NOK 1.1 billion in 2007 to NOK 1.45 bn, spokepeople for several oppostion parties commented that much more should have been allocated to renewables, including R&D in the field.
More about the budget: Ministry of Finance - Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (English) - Ministry for the Environment (Norwegian only)
Nordic companies lack climate targets, transparency
The Climate Disclosure Project (CDP), which represents global investors with assets of $ 41 trillion, has just issued a report on 125 of the largest Nordic companies. Two-thirds responded to the CDP questionnaire, which compares favourably with other CDP surveys. However, only half of those responding were willing to have their responses published, compared to 75 % of Financial Times 500 companies, raising doubts about the Nordic reputation for transparency. 76 % disclosed their actual emissions, but only 23 % had set targets for reducing them, compared to 76 % of FT500 companies. Among carbon-intensive companies, Fortum of Finland got the best marks from CDP, followed by Statoil and Hydro of Norway. Among less carbon-intensive companies, Sweden took all the medals (Gunnebo, TeliaSonera and Ericsson).
Download full report
Carbon-neutral Copenhagen in 2025?
Copenhagen's Deputy Mayor with responsibility for environment and infrastructure issues, Mr. Claus Bondam, has called for the city to become carbon-neutral by 2025. This would be achieved inter alia by reducing car traffic and strongly increasing use of renewavle energy sources, including a geothermal reservoir 2.5 km below the city. At present the island of Samsø (pop. 4200) is Denmark's only carbon-neutral community, while Frederikshavn (story of 21 September) hopes to become so by 2015.
Climate labelling of food proposed in Sweden
The Swedish Ministry for the Environment is negotiating with representatives of the food industry over a proposal to introduce mandatory climate labelling. The scheme would force suppliers to provide information to consumers about the greenhouse gas intensity of their products. According to the Ministry, food is responsible for some 20 % of Swedish GHG emissions.
Danish energy use up by 1.5 % last year
Energy use in Denmark, corrected for electricity exports, rose by 1.5 % in 2006, according to figures just released by the Danish Energy Agency. The increase was due to very strong economic growth. Still, energy use remains only 6 % higher than in 1980, while GDP has grown by almost 80 % over the same period (graph).
Read more (Danish)
Ban on light bulbs proposed in Finland
A group of MPs from the Swedish People's Party and the Green League, both of which are reprersented in the Government, as well as the opposition Left Alliance, have introduced legislation which would ban the sale of incandenscent light bulbs in Finland from 2011. Australia has previously made a similar move, and it is under dicussion at the EU level. Swapping all light bulbs in Finland for compact fluorescent tubes would save an estimated 1 TWh of electricity a year.
Read more [27.09.07]
Big potential for electricity savings in Swedish schools
A study just released by the Swedish Energy Agency shows that use of electricity for purposes other than heating varies widely between schools in the country, with some using as little as 30 kWh/m2 and others 140 kWh/m2. Most of this is for lighting or ventilation, yet there is no significant correlation between energy use for ventilation and air quality, and actually a negative correlation between lighting energy and lighting quality. At least half of the electricity could be saved through better lighting fixtures and control of ventilation. In Denmark, where electricity is dearer than in Sweden, schools use only 23 kWh/m2 compared to the Swdedish average of 61 kWh/m2. In Norway, where it is cheaper, they use about 90 kWh/m2, not counting heating.
Download report (Swedish)
Norway announces first tender for CDM/JI projects
The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has announced its first tender for CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) or JI (Joint Implementation) projects to reduce GHG emissions in other countries. Norway's GHG emissions in the 2008-2012 period will exceed its Kyoto target by a wide margin, and the excess will have to be made up either by purchases of emissions permits under the EU trading scheme or through other flexible mechanisms. The first round of tendering is for emissions reductions of up to 1 million tons of CO2 at a cost of up to 200 million NOK (€ 27 mn). "Special attention" will be given to proposals for CDM/JI projects in countries which so far have few or none.
Read more [28.09.07]
Haga takes over Energy portfolio in Norway
The leader of the Norwegian Centre Party, Ms. Åslaug Haga, has taken over the position of Minister of Petroleum and Energy from Mr. Odd-Roger Enoksen. For the past two years Ms. Haga was Minister of Local Government, and showed her interest in the energy field by launching a “Green energy communities” programme. The new Minister says that she intends to focus om renewble energy and climate change issues. According to several Norwegian media, bioenergy is likely to be high on her agenda.
Ministry announcement (Norwegian) - "Aftenposten" news story (English)
First Danish "Climate Municipality" named
The Danish Society for Nature Conservation has launched a "Climate Municipalities" programme, under which it will co-operate with frontrunner communities in the field and help advertise their activities during the run-up to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009. The first agreement has been signed with the harbour town of Frederikshavn in North Jutland, whose goal is to be self-sufficient in renewable energy by 2015.
Read more (Danish)
Sweden raises taxes on vehicle fuels
In its budget proposal for 2008, the Swedish Government has announced tax increases of SEK 0.55 and 0.29 respectively (about six and three Eurocents) per litre on diesel oil and petrol. It thus follows in the footsteps of the Finnish Government - and also of its own Social Democratic predecessor, whose policy of green tax reform (shifting taxes from labour to energy and emissions) Finance Minister Anders Borg had declared that he would suspend on taking office last year.
Icelanders hope for deep-down energy bonanza
The partners in the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project, which include three major Icelandic energy companies and Alcoa, have announced that they will drill three wells to a depth of 4-5 km during 2008-2009. The objective is to test the feasibility of exploiting the potentially enormous energy source that is geothermal heat in the shape of water at supercritical temperature - over 400 degrees C or so. This could be utilised to produce electricity far more efficiently than the lower-temperature heat to be found closer to the surface. Recent advances in drilling technology may have put it within reach.
Icelandic Deep Drilling Project
Denmark, Sweden to co-operate with Brazil on energy
During Brazilian President Lula da Silva's visit to Scandinavia, agreements were signed with Danish as well as Swedish authorities on increased co-operation in the energy field. Sweden and Brazil are both major producers and consumers of bioenergy products and intend to strengthen co-operation on technology development as well as assistance to developing countries that are interested in developing bioenergy resources. Denmark, which so far has little experience with liquid biofuels, is interested in Brazilian know-how in this area, as is Brazil in Danish soalar and wind energy technology.
Danish and Swedish press releases (in national languages)
Swedish Government announces new package of climate measures
The Swedish Enterprise, Environment and Agriculture Ministers have jointly announced a package of new measures over the 2008-2010 period to reduce GHG emissions. Total funding will amount to SEK 1 billion (€ 105 million). The largest sums will be allocated to development of second generation biofuels, energy efficiency initiatives and a "programme for sustainable cities and communities".
Danish trains to run on renewables
The Danish State Railways (DSB) have entered into a contract with DONG Energy under which all the power for their electric trains from 2008 on will come from renewable sources, including Danish wind power and foreign hydropower. DSB use some 250 GWh annually for their intercity trains and suburban trains in the Copenhagen area, while other local trains are diesel-powered.
Read more (Danish)
Sweden "must cut GHG emissions by 70-85 %"
An expert committee of scientists, which was appointed to advise the Government on climate policy in preparation for a White Paper which it is to deliver next spring, presented its report on 3 September. Although Sweden's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are already among the lowest in Europe, the scientists say the country must cut them by between 70 and 85 % within 2050 if it wants to act as a responsible member of the global community. The full report is available for download in Swedish.
Read more (Swedish)
Feed-in tariffs for Finland?
The Finnish Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Mauri Pekkarinen, who is responsible for energy policy in the Cabinet, has come out in favour of introducing a system of feed-in tariffs for green electricity. At present the state provides limited subsidies for electricity generated from new renewable sources such as wind power. Under a feed-in tariff scheme, utilities would instead be obliged to pay a premium for such electricity, thereby offloading the national budget.
Read more [07.09.07]
Norway will miss EU climate train
Fears that Norway would not be ready to join the new EU emissions trading scheme when it is introduced on 1 January 2008 now seem certain to come true, according to Norwegian State Broadcasting. The three governing parties have so far been unable to agree on the details of their proposed allocations scheme for Norwegian industry - and once they do, the proposal will have to go through a lengthy vetting by the EU Commission. The Federation of Norwegian Industries does not expect a scheme to become operative in Norway until July of next year.
Read more (Norwegian) [07.09.07]
EU accepts Danish emissions plan
The EU Commission today announced that it has accepted the Danish plan for allocating CO2 emissions permits during the 2008-2012 period, with only very minor adjustments. While the two other Nordic EU members - Sweden and Finland - were allowed fewer permits than they had proposed, the only significant change ordered in the Danish case was a reduction from 19 % to 17 % in the share of emissions that Danish companies would be allowed to offset through CDM or JI projects. Minister for the Environment Connie Hedegaard is naturally satisfied.
Read more (Danish)
Swedish Railways booming
The Swedish State Railways (SJ) are looking for 1000 new employees following strong growth in goods and passenger traffic, turnover and profits. Turnover grew by 30 % and profits by 63 % from the second quarter of 2006 to the same period this year. SJ now claim to be stealing market share from airlines.
Read more (English) - SJ press release (Swedish)
High-tech metering to be introduced in Norway
Within 2012, all Norwegian households are to be provided with new and more advanced electricity meters. They will communicate in real time with the electricity provider, enabling not only automated billing, but also billing by the hour. Consumers will not only be able to opt for contracts whereby they pay less for consumption during hours of low demand and more during peak hours, but will also get more readily accessible information on their own consumption, according to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, which hopes that the measure will also promote energy conservation.
Read more (Norwegian) [31.08.07]
Government agrees on energy taxes in Finland
The Finnish governing parties have agreed to increase the tax on petrol by 4 Eurocents per litre and diesel by just slightly more, according to reports today. Heating oil and electricity will also become more expensive. This follows weeks of anger over Finance Minister Katainen's (picture) original proposal to increase the tax on diesel by twice as much as that on petrol. Katainen was attacked by transport operators as well as by some environmentalists, who pointed out that diesel-powered cars use less fuel than those running on petrol.
Read more [31.08.07]
Swedish municipalities show strong interest in sustainable energy programme
Since 2003, the Swedish Energy Agency has co-operated with five municipalities on a "Sustainable Municipalities" programme, designed to show how municipalities could improve their communities' energy efficiency and reduce their GHG emissions. Now the Energy Agency has announced that the programme will be expanded to cover a further 20 of the 290 municipalities in Sweden. 62 municipalities have applied and are thus competing for a place among the next 20.
Read more (Swedish)
Energy and emissions taxes no longer to be frozen in Denmark
Shortly after taking power in 2001, the current centre-right Government in Denmark decided to freeze taxes on energy and GHG emissions at their existing nominal level, thereby making them slowly decline in real terms with inflation. On 21 August, the Government announced a new tax policy, under which these taxes hereafter will rise at the same rate as the consumer price index. The new policy is part of a tax package under which marginal income taxes will be reduced.
Read more (Danish)
Support for congestion charges strong in Sweden and Finland, weak in Norway
Congestion charging was recently reintroduced in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, following a trial run in 2006 and a subsequent referendum in which 70 % of residents voted in favour of making it permanent. A recent poll in Finland shows that almost half of Helsinki residents and an even larger proportion in the rest of southern Finland favour congestion charges in the Finnish capital. Ahead of the Norwegian local government elections on 10 September, the central government has announced that it will offer large subsidies for upgrading public transport to any of the largest cities, provided they introduce congestion charges. The offer has been snubbed at the local level by all three of the largest parties, which seem certain that going for it would scare voters away in droves.
Swedish Energy Authority expects power surplus
According to short-term projections recently issued by the Swedish Energy Authority, the country will have an exportable surplus of electricity in all of the years 2007-2009. Most of Sweden's electricity production comes from hydro and nuclear power, in roughly equal proportions. However, the Energy Authority expects wind power production to double by 2009, and CHP production (mainly based on bioenergy) also to increase. Provided hydro and nuclear production are at normal levels, there will be more than enough electricity for Swedish needs.
Read more (Swedish)
Fewer cars in Danish cities
Car traffic in central Copenhagen has fallen by 4.5 % over the past two years, and other major Danish cities also report decreasing congestion. Increased parking fees have contributed to the drop in traffic in Copenhagen. However, the positive trend in central city areas seems to have been caused partly by movements of workplaces to suburban municipalities and countered by increasing traffic there and on ring roads.
Private companies banned from exploiting hydropower in Norway
Following a decision by the EFTA Court in late June which ruled Norway's existing law on the reversion of private hydropower plants to the State inadmissible, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Odd-Roger Enoksen announced that he would leave no stone unturned in the search for a way to secure lasting public ownership (story of 8 August). On 10 August he announced that it had been discovered. The Government issued a provisional decree - to be followed by a new law - immediately banning private companies altogether from acquiring waterfalls or hydropower plants. Enoksen is confident that the new law will be found compatible with EEA rules on competition. The decree does not change the status of the 12 % of hydropower capacity presently in private ownership.
Read more [18.08.07]
Low-emission vehicles park for free in Reykjavík
The City of Reykjavík - home to 120,000 of Iceland's population of 300,000 - has introduced a new by-law whereby owners of cars that use less than 5 litres of petrol per 100 km can obtain a sticker that exempts them from all parking fees. Within a week, an estimated 25 % of eligible motorists had applied for their sticker.
Danes may get compensation for effects of big windmills
The Danish Minister for the Environment, Ms. Connie Hedegaard, has welcomed a proposal that property owners who can show that the value of their properties has been lowered by nearby windmills should be compensated. The proposal comes from a commission that was set up to suggest ways of advancing Denmark's goal of substantially increasing wind power generation by replacing older windmills with newer and larger models. One of the major hindrances is opposition from people who live close to the wind farms.
Finland to increase energy taxes
The Finnish Government has announced that energy taxes will rise by a total of € 300 milion next year. According to the Government's climate advisor, Mr. Oras Tynkkynen of the Green Party (picture) the biggest tax increases should hit heating oil. How the increase will be spread among energy goods will be decided in ongoing negotiations over the budget between the governing parties. Mr. Tykkynen would have liked a bigger total increase, whereas Minister of Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen is reportedly holding back.
Read more (Swedish) [08.08.07]
Norway loses case over reversion of hydro plants
The EFTA Court, which has the last word in disputes relating to the implementation of rules realting to the single market under the agreement on the European Economic Area, has ruled important provisions of a law dating from 1917 illegal. Under the law, Norwegian public bodies (the state, counties and municipalities) have had the sole right to acquire hydropower resources in perpetuity. Private companies have only been able to obtain rights of use for 60 years, after which the resources would revert to the State. This constitutes illegal discrimination, according to the Court.The reversion rule could be applied to all investors - including counties and municipalities, who currently own 55 % of Norwegian hydro capacity - but there are fears that this would lead to a quick sell-off by these bodies. Minister of Petroleum and Energy has promised to leave "no stone unturned" in an effort to uphold the spirit of the old law.
Read more (Norwegian) [08.08.07]
EU cuts Swedish emissions cap by 8.4 % - Carlgren not complaining
The EU Commission has decided to set Sweden's annual CO2 allowance for the 2008-2012 period at 22.8 million tons, a cut of 9.5 % in relation to Sweden's original propossal and of 8.4 % from an amended one. Swedish Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren (picture) says that his country would accept the decision, adding that he had previously come out in favour of a restrictive cap-setting policy by the Commission.
Read more (Swedish) - EU press release (English)
Biogas taxis for Reykjavik
The Legubílastödin taxi company of Reykjavík has acquired its first two biogas taxis and plans to get more. The biogas comes from the city's waste disposal facility at Álfsnes. Metan Ltd, a subsidiary of the waste utility SORPA, is currently building a 10-km pipeline from the facility to Reykjavík, which will make biogas more easily available to motorists. Metan claims to have enough gas for 4,000 cars.
White Paper on climate gets mixed reception in Norway
Following a lengthy tug-of-war between the three governing parties, the Norwegian Government published its White Paper on climate policy on June 21. It describes a wide-ranging set of measures to reduce Norway’s emissions by 30 per cent within 2020. The document has won praise from employers’ and labour organisations as well as the right-wing opposition Progress Party, whereas some other opposition parties and most environmental groups have criticised it for being to weak and/or too vague. Objections include the inclusion of carbon uptake by forests as a reduction measure and the referral of several measures to “further study” or “consideration”.
Read more: Government press release - Article on "Aftenposten" website [25.06.07]
Congestion charges get green light in Stockholm
Congestion charges will be introduced on a permanent basis in Stockholm from 1 August this year, following a decision by the Swedish Parliament on June 20. This follows a highly successful trial in the first half of 2006, which reduced rush-hour traffic in the capital by a quarter, and a subsequent referendum in which a majority of Stockholm residents voted to keep the scheme in place.
Icelanders to invest in Norwegian hydropower
The State-owned Icelandic energy utility RARIK and the Icelandic bank Landsbanki plan to build 40 small hydropower plants in Western Norway. The plants will be developed in co-operation with Blåfall Energy, a company whose business concept is to sell certified “green” electricity on the European market. Although registered in Norway, Blåfall is owned by a consortium of Finnish, Dutch and Icelandic interests.
Väyrynen claims climate concerns justify less protection of forests
Mr. Paavo Väyrynen, the Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade and a leading figure in the Centre Party, has sparked a row by suggesting that protected forests should be opened to felling. Part of Mr. Väyrynen’s argument is that managed forests with their more rapid growth could store more carbon. This claim has been debunked by the Finnish Society for Nature Conservation.
Read more [25.06.07]
Wind power subsidy to be increased in Denmark
A proposal by the Danish Government to increase the subsidy on wind power from DKK 0.123 to DKK 0.2 (€ 0.026) during the first five years of new wind farms’ operations has been welcomed by the Opposition and the wind power industry alike. They hope this will get investments to pick up after several years of sluggish development. However, the opposition Social Democrats would have preferred a larger increase.
Danish Government invites debate on national strategy for sustainable development
Hard on the heels of Norway (second story below), the Danish Government has presented a new draft strategy for sustainable development, entitled "Global Responsibility". 120 organisations have been invited to comment on the strategy, which will also be the subject of debate at a series of public meetings. Main points in the draft include a previously announced goal of increasing the share of renewable energy in Denmark to 30 % by 2020, and reducing CO2 emissions from the transport sector by 25 % (baseline 1988) by 2030.
Read more (Danish)
Finnish utility wants to develop protected river for hydropower
One of the two major power utilities in Finland, Pohjolan Voima, has announced plans for a new 155 MW hydropower plant on the Iijoki river. The Finnish Society for Nature Conservation has denounced the plans, which it claims would break the law as the river was given protected status in 1987. The new Finnish Government has previously come out in favour of more hydropower developments.
Read more [16.06.07]
Draft of new national strategy for sustainable development published in Norway
Norway first adopted a national strategy for sustainable development in 2003. The previous Government then announced that it would be revised every four years, which the present Government has followed up on. It has now invited comments from the public on a revised draft version, before this is submitted to Parliament along with the National Budget in October. The document contains no surprises on climate policy - goals such as reducing GHG emissions by 30 % withing 2020 had been announced previously, and important "hows" remain to be answered by an upcoming White Paper on climate policy.
Read more (Norwegian) [16.06.07]
Carlgren claims success for Environment Ministers' climate meeting
Environment Ministers from 28 countries gathered at Riksgränsen in northern Sweden from June 11-14 for an informal meeting to discuss climate issues. According to the host, Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, the meeting made "important progress" in preparation for the official UN conference in Bali later this year. The ministers especially emphasised the importance of halting deforestation.
Vestas named world's greenest company
Danish wind turbine producer Vestas has taken first place in an environmental ranking of 3000 companies, carried out by British newspaper The Independent and Ethical Investment Research Services. Not only does Vestas produce renewable energy machines - they are also 80 % recyclable, and 68 % of the energy that goes into making them is renewable, according to the citation.
Cheap power for aluminium smelter raises eyebrows in Iceland
Revelations that Nordurál, a subsidiary of Century Aluminium, has been offered electricity at 2 Eurocents per kWh for a proposed new smelter by publicly owned Reykjavik Energy have raised eyebrows among other consumers. Electricity is generally cheap in Iceland, which has abundant hydropower, no grid connections to other countries and no electricity tax beyond the EEA minimum. Still, other large consumers pay twice the price Nordurál has been offered.
New knowledge centre to teach energy efficiency in Denmark
A proposal by the opposition Socialist People's Party in Denmark to establish a new "knowledge centre", dedicated to promoting energy efficiency in the building sector, has won the support of the governing parties and of Parliament. According to the Finance Ministry, improvements in this sector alone could reduce national energy consumption by as much as 35 per cent.
Sustainable energy use "should be overarching environmental goal" in Sweden
In 1999, the Swedish Parliament adopted a set of 15 (later expanded to 16) "environmental objectives", which have since been a focus of environmental policymaking and reporting. These are now up for revision through a coming White Paper. The Swedish Energy Authority claims that the current set of objectives does not address the consequences of energy use coherently, and that energy use should therefore be identified as an "overarching" issue in a new set of objectives.
Read more (Swedish)
EU cuts Finnish CO2 allowance, but Pekkarinen satisfied
The EU Commission has decided to cut Finland's proposed qouta of free CO2 emissions permits for industry and power plants over the 2008-12 period by 5 %, from 39.6 to 37.6 million tons annually. The Confederation of Finnish Industry is predictably disappointed, but Minister of Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen says he is "very pleased" that the Commission took special Finnish conditions into consideration by not imposing a larger cut.
Read more [09.06.07]
Leaked study of potential GHG reductions sparks row in Norway
A study by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT), which was published by the Aftenposten newspaper today, suggests that it would be technically possible for Norway to cut its GHG emissions by 34 % within 2020 - i.e. more than the Government's goal of 30 %. A 22 % cut could be achieved quite cheaply. The Government had not intended the study to be published until it published its own White Paper on climate policy later this year. The issue is touchy as the main Government party (Labour) is assumed to favour achieving much of the goal by buying emissions permits from other countries, while its coalition partners favour larger cuts at home. Opposition spokespeople have accused the Government of suppressing information to cover up internal differences.
Read more [31.05.07]
Environmental expert to be fourth "wise man" in Denmark
The "three wise men" (vismænderne) are a household term in Denmark. It refers to the panel of chairmen of the Danish Economic Council, who are very influential as advisors to any Danish Government of the day on economic policy. Some years ago, environmentalists felt a need to establish an independent Ecological Council to provide alternative recommendations. Now an environmental expert has been admitted to the inner sanctum. The fourth "wise man" will be Dr. Eirik Schrøder Amundsen, a Professor of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen.
Finnish Finance Minister, PM disagree over climate burden
According to the Finnish Minster of Finance, Mr. Jyrki Katainen (Conservative, pictured) cutting GHG emissions will be expensive for Finland. A study by his ministry suggests that Finland will be among the EU countries to suffer the largest losses in jobs and GDP. Prime Minister Vanhanen (Centre Party) is reportedly not convinced, and less worried about the burden of cutting emissions than the "boundless" cost of doing nothing.
Government, business agree to promote sustainable building in Sweden
On May 22, Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren signed an agreement with 40 major actors, including construction companies, property developers and some of Sweden's largest cities. They have jointly undertaken to promote sustainable construction and use of buildings, which currently consume 40 % of all the energy used in Sweden. The Government's contribution includes funding for information and communication activities as well as RD & D. The agreement represents an extension and expansion of a programme initiated in 1998.
Read more (Swedish)
New Icelandic Government appointed
Following the elections on 12 May, Mr. Geir Haarde (picture) of the Independence Party will remain Prime Minister, but now in a coalition with the Social Democrats. The centrist Progressive Party withdrew from government after major electoral losses. The new Minister for the Environment will be Ms. Thorúnn Sveinbjarnardóttir and the Minister for Industry, with responsibility for energy, will be Mr. Ossur Skarphédinsson. Both are Social Democrats. In its policy declaration, the new Government promises to promote high-tech industry (which the Social Democrats championed) and to combat global warming inter alia through more reafforestation.
Green MP to co-ordinate climate policy in Finland
Prime Minister Vanhanen has announced that Mr. Oras Tynkkynen (picture), who represents the Green League - one of the four governing parties - in Parliament, will be attached to the Government as a climate specialist. Mr. Tynkkynen will participate in meetings of the ministerial group on climate and have responsibility for co-ordinating policies in this field.
Read more [25.05.07]
"Don't reduce consumption to save climate", says Treschow
Michael Treschow, former CEO of Electrolux, outgoing chairman of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and incoming chairman of Unilever, is worried over the calls to reduce consumption in order to avoid global warming. People must have faith in technological solutions, according to Treschow. A lively debate om whether technology can do the trick or whether belt-tightening is required is going on in several Nordic countries.
New biofuel initiatives in Norway
In connection with the Spring revision of the budget for 2007, the Norwegian Government has announced that cars running on biofuels will be eligible for a deduction of NOK 10.000 (€ 1250) in the purchase tax from July 1. Sweden, which has no such tax, recently made such cars eligible for a similar subsidy. The Government also announced that biofuels must make up 5 % of fuel sold in Norway by 2009, and å goal of stepping this up to 7 % in 2010.
Read more (Norwegian) [25.05.07]
Danish Minister blasts IEA's lack of sustainable energy perspective
At a ministerial meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on 15 May, Danish Minister of Transport and Energy Flemming Hansen sharply critcised the organisastion for its lack of leadership on sustainability issues. According to Mr. Hansen, the IEA was good at producing business-as-usual scenarios, but had yet to show how energy systems could be changed to make sustainable development possible. Other Ministers backed Mr. Hansen's criticisms.
Flemming Hansen's remarks (Danish) - IEA communiqué (English)
Time running out for early Norwegian participation in EU emissions trading
The President of the EFTA Surveillance Authority, Mr. Bjørn Grydeland, has raised doubts over whether Norway will be able to participate in the EU CO2 emissions trading scheme from 1 January 2008 as intended. A lot of hurdles remain to be overcome, including the conclusion of negotiations between EFTA countries and the EU, the incorporation of the EU directive into Norwegian law, the submission of a Norwegian allocation scheme for emissions permits to the EU and its acceptance. State Secretary Henriette Westhrin at the Norwegian Ministy for the Environment still hopes to reach the finish line by 1 January, while admitting that it will be "demanding".
Read more (Norwegian) [18.05.07]
Copenhagen shines at global gathering of mayors
The Mayor of Copenhagen, Ms. Ritt Bjerregaard, was reportedly one of the stars when the mayors of 40 of the world's largest cities convened i New York to discuss environmental issues. The fact that 97 % of heating needs in the Danish capital are covered by district heat made a strong impression, as did the high percentage of people who commute to work by bicycle.
GHG emissions drop slightly for second year in Norway
According to preliminary figures released by Statistics Norway, total greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 0.8 % in 2006, following on a slight reduction the year before. However, emissions are still sure to rise over the next two years, as a new gas-fired power plant and a major gas processing plant come on stream.
Read more [18.05.07]
Vattenfall power plants emit more CO2 than all of Sweden
Vattenfall, Sweden's state-owned energy company, figures prominently on the "Dirty Thirty" list of Europe's most polluting power plants, newly released by WWF International. Four of the 16 plants that emit the most CO2 are owned by Vattenfall. All four are located in Germany and burn lignite. According to WWF, their combined emissions amount to 63.8 million tons per year. Sweden's own GHG emissions in 2005 were 67 million tons, including 55.6 million tons of CO2.
Greens gain, Progessives lose in Icelandic elections
The two governing parties in Iceland, the conservative Independence Party and the centrist Progressive Party, retain the narrowest possible majority in Parliament - 32 of 63 seats - following the elections on 12 May. However, it is uncertain if the Progressives will stay in the Government after they lost five of their twelve seats. The biggest winner at the election was the Left Green Party, which won nine seats, a gain of four. Together with the Social Democrats, who lost two seats, the Greens campaigned against further expansion of energy-intensive industry in Iceland.
Full election results (Icelandic)
Carlgren deplores "prisoner's dilemma" of climate policy
Speaking at the meeting of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) i New York on May 9, Swedish Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren expressed concern that nations were facing climate change like a "prisoner's dilemma" - all waiting for the others to act. Yet he pointed out that Sweden had reduced its GHG emissions by 7 % while increasing GDP by 35 %. Not to be outdone, his Danish colleague mentioned that her country had increased GDP by 70 % in 25 years with no growth in energy use.
Carlgren's speech - Other Nordic statements at CSD-15: Denmark 1 -
Denmark 2 - Finland- Norway
Denmark to step up support for environmental technology
The Danish Minister for the Environment, Ms. Connie Hedegaard, has announced plans for a more concerted effort to promote innovation and exports of environmental technology. Funding for the plan will include DKK 1.6 bn (€ 220 miilion) annually from the bugdets of several specified agencies, and so far unspecified additional money. The former sum includes DKK 500 million of extra funding for development of energy technology which was announced in January.
Read more (Danish)
Finnish GHG inventory shows marked drop in emissions - but trend is upward
The recently released official Finnish inventory of GHG emissions for the 1990-2005 period shows that they fell sharply in 2004 and 2005, to a level 3 % below that of 1990. However, this was largely due to high imports of electricity and a temporary drawdown of Finland's own fossil-fuelled power production. The underlying trend in emissions is still clearly upward.
Read more [11.05.07]
60 % of Swedes worry about climate change
Over 60 % of Swedes are worried about climate change, according to a recent survey by the SIFO institute. One-fifth are "very worried". Young men are the least concerned, with three-fifths of the 15-29 age group saying they are not particularly worried.
Offshore wind power potential of 4600 MW in Denmark - study
An official study, led by the Danish Energy Authority and involving several other agencies and institutions, has concluded that the potential for offshore wind power development in Danish waters is 4600 MW by 2025. This would provide 18 TWh of electricity a year, or half of Denmark's current consumption.
Read more (Danish)
Statoil buys into Canadian oil sands
Statoil of Norway has announced that it is to take over the North American Oil Sands Corporation of Canada, thereby acquiring 1100 km2 of oil sands in Alberta with reserves of 2.2 billion barrels of oil. The announcement immediately drew angry reactions from green groups in Norway, with WWF Norway and FoE Norway both demanding that the State use its majority interest in Statoil to stop the deal.
Read more (Statoil) - (WWF Norway - Norwegian only) [27.04.07]
Vattenfall's coal power plans met with demonstrations
Participants at Vattenfall's annual general meeting in Stockholm on 25 April were mwt by demonstrators from Greenpeace and with protests from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation against their plans to build two large coal-fired power plants in Germany. Vattenfall has defended its plans by coupling them with its work on carbon capture and storage (CCS). The evironmental groups want them shelved until CCS is actually ready to deploy.
Read more (Swedish)
"New Government not fulfilling promises" - Finnish environmentalists
No sooner had the new centre-right Government taken office, than they were criticised for reneging on promises about climate and energy policy its parties had made on the campaign trail. According to Finnish news agency STT, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation is particularly critical of the Governments's programme for envisaging more use of peat and new hydropower development.
Low-emission vehicles to become cheaper in Denmark
On 26 April, the Danish Government announced that it had secured a parliamentary majority for its plan to differentiate the excise on new cars more according to their CO2 emissions. Small cars with low emissions will become cheaper by up to 20.000 DKK (€ 2800). Norway took a similar step in 2006. The two countries have some of the world's highest taxes on new cars - around 100 % by value on average - which provides a lot of leeway for such differentiation.
Danish energy technology exports up by 18 % in 2006
Danish exports of energy technology products, spearheaded by wind turbines but also including a range of energy-saving equipment, grew by 18 % in 2006, according to figures released by the Danish Energy Authority. They totalled 46 billion DKK (€ 6.2 bn), three times more than ten years ago.
Read more (Danish)
New Finnish Government appointed
Following the recent elections (story of 20 March), President Tarja Halonen yesterday formally appointed a new Finnish Government. Mr. Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party) continues as Prime Minister, this time in a coalition with the Coalition (Conservative), Green and Swedish People's parties. Mr. Mauri Pekkarinen will retain the Trade and Industry portfolio, with responsibility for energy, while Ms. Paula Lehtomäki (picture) takes over the Environment portfolio. Both represent the Centre Party.
Read more [20.04.07]
Parliamentary Commission to review Swedish climate policy
The Swedish Minister for the Environment, Anders Carlgren, yesterday announced the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission, including one representative from each party in Parliament plus an independent chairperson, to review Swedish climate policy. The Commision is to propose targets for reductions in national GHG emissions by 2020 and 2050 as well as for the use of flexible mechanisms. It is to report by 15 January next year.
Read more (Swedish)
Stoltenberg announces 30 % GHG reduction target
Addressing the national conference of the Norwegian Labour Party, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg yesterday announced that his Government would set a goal of reducing Norway's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 % within 2020. However, it is not clear how much is to be achieved at home, and how much through international flexible mechanisms.
Read more [20.04.07]
Iceland to import 30 hydrogen cars
The Icelandic companies Nyorka and Vistorka, which are promoting tha vision of Iceland as a "hydrogen society", have announced that they will impoet 30 hydrogen vehicles later this year. Some will be fuel cell vehicles from Daimler Chrysler, while the others, from Toyota, will have internal combustion engines. The decision follows the successful trial of three hydrogen buses in Reykjavik.
Surplus of carbon permits in both Sweden and Norway
Industries in Sweden as well as Norway emitted less carbon dioxide than their permits entiltled them to in 2006, according to separate announcements by the Swedish Energy Authority and the State Pollution Control Authority of Norway. The picture is thus the same as in many EU countries. Generous allowances for the 2005-2007 period have caused the bottom to drop out of the market for permits.
Read more (Swedish and Norwegian)
Oil consumption up, electricity down in Norway
Electricity consumption dropped by 2.4 % in Norway in 2006, according to figures just released by Statistics Norway. This was due to high prices and the closure of some large industrial consumers. However, consumption of oil products grew by 3.5 %, driven by continued growth in transport. Total end-use of energy was almost unchanged.
Read more [14.04.07]
Citizens of Hafnarfjördur reject Alcan's expansion plans
In a referendum on 31 March, the citizens of Hafnarfjördur - Rekjavik's neighbour and port town - voted against granting Alcan permission to triple the capacity of
its aluminium smelter there. Although the majority was narrow (50.3 %), Mayor Ludvik Geirsson (picture) has promised that the decision will be respected. Whether or not to expand energy-intensive industries further is also a major issue ahead of the Icelandic general elections in May.
Danes plan to test monster wind turbines
Danish wind turbine producers, who control 40 % of the world market, are preparing to scale up their turbines still further. The next generation will have power ratings of 5-10 MW - compared to 2-3 MW for today's large turbines - and be between 150-200 metres tall. The Ministers of Transport and Energy and of the Environment have now announced a short list of eight sites - six onshore and two offshore - which may be chosen to test the new turbines.
Read more (Danish)
Fortum ponders new nuclear reactor
The Finnish energy company Fortum has announced that it is starting an environmental impact assessment of a possible new nuclear reactor at Loviisa. This would be the third reactor at the Loviisa plant and the sixth in Finland. According to company Vice President Tapio Kuula, no decision has been made to go ahead - Fortum is merely "raising its preparedness" to build a new reactor. Finland's fifth reactor, currently being built at Olkiluoto, was the subject of intense controversy.
Read more [30.03.07]
Norwegians satisfied with pellets for heating
Over the past five years some 8000 Norwegian households have installed wood pellets burners or boilers, some of them as a result of two campaigns in 2003 and 2006 when these were eligible for a subsidy. A survey among owners, commissioned by Enova, shows that most have reduced their electricity consumption as a result, and that 95 % would recommenend this heating technology to others. However, Norway still lags far behind Sweden in the use of wood pellets.
Read more (Norwegian) [30.03.07]
Sweden offers bonus to buyers of low-emission cars
Buyers of low-emission vehicles in Sweden will receive a subsidy of SEK 10.000 (€ 1050) starting on April 1, the Government has announced. The scheme will stay in place until the end of 2009 and will cover cars that use less than 5 litres of petrol per 100 km, as well as those running on alternative fuels such as ethanol or biogas. Until now, Swedish petrol and diesel cars have been the least fuel-efficient in Europe (story of 16 March).
Denmark to host 2009 climate summit
Denmark has been chosen to host the crucial 2009 Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Convention, which is expected to attract 10.000 participants from 170 countries. The Government “hopes the summit can pick up where the Rio and Kyoto summits left off”.
Norway launches “Green energy communities” programme
The Norwegian Minister of Local Government, Åslaug Haga, has announced that 10-12 municipalities will be invited to participate in a new programme called “Green energy communities”. The aim is to show that municipalities can play a major part in reducing electricity and fossil fuel consumption. Participants will be expected to bring about “major changes in a short period of time” says Haga.
Read more(Norwegian) [26.03.07]
Danish CO2 emissions sharply up in 2006
Denmark’s emissions of carbon dioxide grew by 16 % from 2005 to 2006. This was largely because lower production of hydro-electricity in Norway and Sweden necessitated more generation from coal-fired plants in Denmark. Due to its integration in a Nordic electricity market with very large but weather-dependent hydro production, Denmark experiences greater annual shifts in CO2 emissions than any other European country.
Conservatives gain in Finnish elections
The Centre Party of PM Matti Vanhanen lost four seats, but remains the largest party in the Finnish Parliament with 51 of 200 seats after the elections on 18 March. However, its coalition partner, the Social Democrats, lost 8 and retained 45, while the conservative Coalition Party gained 10 to become the second biggest party with 50. A centre-right coalition government therefore appears likely. The Left Alliance got 17 seats, the Greens 15 and other parties a total of 22.
Full election results
SAS offers carbon offsets
SAS Scandinavian Airlines announced on 14 March that it will from now on be offering travellers carbon offsets when they book their tickets. The money they pay will be passed on to the Carbon Neutral Company and spent for instance on renewable energy projects. SAS is the first Nordic airline to introduce such a scheme, although a few other international carriers have already done so.
Read more [16.03.07]
Swedish energy use projected to increase
Energy use in Sweden will grow by 16 % over the 2005-2025 period, according to a new projection by the Swedish Energy Authority. Growth will be particularly strong in the transport sector, followed by industry, while households are not expected to use more energy. This is a business-as-usual scenario, assuming that no new policies to limit energy use will be introduced, that no nuclear reactors will be phased out and that CO2 allowances will cost € 25 per tonne over the whole period.
Read more (Swedish)
Few Norwegian development NGOs involved in sustainable energy
According to a study commissioned by FOE Norway, only a few Norwegian NGOs involved in development co-operation are supporting sustainable energy projects. 55 organisations received a questionnaire, to which 24 responded fully. Eight of these were involved in projects in which energy efficiency or renewable energy were components. Many had not reflected on the climate or energy consequences of their activities in other fields.
Read more(Norwegian) [16.03.07]
Swedish cars guzzle gas
Sweden is a European leader in biofuels (picture), but the rest of the car fleet is far less green. The average petrol or diesel car sold in Sweden in 2006 burns 7.8 litres of fuel per 100 km - the highest figure of all the EU-15 countries. The EU-15 average was already down to 6.5 litres in 2004. Finnish and Norwegian cars also tend to use more fuel than the European average, while Danish vehicles are close to average.
Norwegian Government proposes new emissions quota system
Norway is to join the EU CO2 emissions trading system next year, but will follow its own rules for issuing permits to industry. Presenting the Goverment's proposed emissions regime on 8 March, Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen claimed that it would put Norway ahead of the EU, as polluters would only be allowed free permits for an average of 81 % of historic (1998-2001) emissions, as against some 90 % of projected emissions in the EU. However, the allowances would vary across industries and some would initially be exempt.
Press release (Norwegian) [09.03.07]
Denmark presents CDM/JI strategy
The Danish Ministry of Environment has presented a strategy document on how the Government will purchase Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) credits for up to 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year over the 2008-12 period. 1.13 billion DKK (€ 145 mn) have been set aside for these projects, which Denmark hopes will also boost markets for its environmental technology. Poland, Bulgaria and Romania are priority countries for JI projects. CDM projects are likely in South Africa and six Asian countries.
Read more (Danish)
Finns favour renewables to save climate, says poll
A survey of 1000 Finnish adults shows that 41 % believe renewable energy sources like bioenergy, wind and solar energy provide the best hope of combating climate change, according to Finnish news agency STT. 22 % place their bets on energy efficiency, while only 12 % believe nuclear energy is the best solution. 6 % think nothing will work.
Read more [09.03.07]
Swedish PM presents Commission on Sustainable Development
The members of the new Swedish Commission on Sustainable Development, which will focus on climate change issues, were announced on 7 March. The Commission will be headed by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, and will also include the Environment and Finance Ministers. Other members include the CEOs of Volvo and Vattenfall, more businesspeople, academics and the chairman of WWF Sweden. A controversial appointment is Professor Bengt Kriström, who has said that climate change should be low on the list of global priorities.
Press release (Swedish)
Enova exceeds target for conservation and new energy
Enova, the State company that administers Norwegian government support for energy conservation and new renewable energies, claims to have overachieved its target for 2001-2006. In return for the up to 700 million NOK (€ 85 mn) of annual funding that Enova has received, it was expected to displace 7 TWh of conventional electricity or oil consumption over the five years through conservation, wind power, bioenergy and other sources. It achieved 8.3 TWh. Enova's funding will be strongly increased over the next few years.
Press release (Norwegian) [03.03.07]
Govt. claims new wind farms almost on track in Denmark
The Danish Government has recently been attacked by the Opposition for not upholding the agreement on energy policy of 2004, especially regarding new wind power developments. Minister of Transport and Energy Flemming Hansen claims that the Government has done everything expected of it, while admitting that the two new large offshore wind farms evisaged will come on stream one or two years late, i.e. in 2009 and 2010.
Read more (Danish)
New state energy utility in Finland?
High prices, profit margins and option payouts at Finnish energy utility Fortum, in which the State is the majority shareholder, have sparked political controversy, according to News Room Finland. A poll of candidates at the upcoming general election shows that six out of ten are in favour of establishing another State utility to compete with it. In 2006 Fortum made a profit of
€ 1,455 million on sales of € 4,491 million.
Full-scale carbon capture still 5-7 years away in Norway
On taking office in 2005, the Norwegian Government promised to implement full-scale carbon capture and storage at the country's first gas-fired power plant within 2009. Early this week it was rumoured that they had decided to put this off indefinitely, following a report (Norwegian) which concluded that this would not be feasible until 2011-2012, and at a high cost. In an inteview with Dagsavisen, Minister of Petroleum and Energy Odd Roger Enoksen denied this, but admitted that three options were on the table, ranging from start-up in 2011-2012 to postponement beyond 2014.
Denmark to launch national climate campaign
Under the motto of "One tonne less", the Danish Ministies of the Environment and of Transport and Energy are to launch a joint campaign to get ordinary Danes to cut their GHG Emissions. The campaign strategy is available for download in Danish. The official launching date - 1 April - is hopefully not significant.
Read more (Danish)
EU sets emissions target for 2020 - Nordics divided
Meeting in Brussels on 20 February, EU Environment Ministers agreed to the Commission's proposed target of reducing GHG emissions by 20 % from 1990 levels within 2020, or by 30 % if other industrial countries went along. As expected, Denmark and Sweden both argued for a more ambitious target - an unconditional 30 % reduction - while Finland by contrast wanted to make any target conditonal on other indutrial countries' signing up. The Environment Ministers of Norway, which has yet to define its own position (story of 5 February) and Iceland were present as observers.
Press releases in national languages Denmark Sweden Norway - EU press release (English)
City of Växjö awarded sustainable energy prize
The City of Växjö (pop. 80.000) in southern Sweden has been awarded the Sustainable Energy Europe prize for 2007. In 1993, the Växjö City Council set a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 50 % within 2010. By 2005, they had been cut by 24 %, through a range of measures including bioenergy-based district heating, energy efficiency measures, solar water heating and biofuel vehicles. Through additional measures over the next few years, the city still hopes to achieve its 50 % target.
Three "climate-neutral cities" for Denmark?
Denmark is likely to host the crucial 2009 Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Convention. The Danish Radical Party has now proposed that by then, three Danish cities, towns or islands should be showcasing the way to a zero-carbon future, and that the Government should allocate an initial 60 million DKK (€ 8 million) to the project. The proposal is based on suggestions from the Danish energy industries' own annual "Energy Camp" futuring session, and supported by environmental NGOs.
Read more (Danish)
Local Agenda 21 Office to continue in Iceland
While the term "Local Agenda 21" is less often heard in some Nordic countries than a few years ago, it is alive and well in Iceland. On 15 February, the Minster for the Environment and the Chairman of the Icelandic Association of Municipalities signed a new agreement on funding for the national Local Agenda 21 Office until 2009. The office, which provides advice and networking support to municipalities, was founded in 1998.
Read more (Icelandic)
Finland against unilateral EU target for GHG emissions
The Finnish Minister of Trade and Industry, Mauri Pekkarinen, says that Finland is not in favour of the EU's setting a unilateral target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 % by 2020. The other Nordic EU members, Denmark and Sweden, support this target - and prefer an even more ambitious one - but Pekkarinen claims it would hurt European competitiveness. Provided all industrial countries were bound by it, Finland would nevertheless support a reduction target of 30 % by 2020.
Norway's GHG emissions down - but not for long
According to figures newly released by Statistics Norway, the country's greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 1.5 % in 2005, but were still 8.5 % above the 1990 level. The drop may already have been reversed in 2006, as sales of oil products grew. It is certain to be sharply reversed over the next couple of years, as a gas-fired power plant at Kårstø and an LNG plant at Melkøya start operating.
Swedish ex-PM honoured for climate efforts
The Swedish Prime Minister from 1996-2006, Göran Persson, has been awarded the Norwegian Sophie Prize for his efforts to combat global warming. During his tenure, Swedish GHG emissions were cut by 13.5 %, ambitious targets were set for further reductions and Sweden became a leader in biofuels. The Sophie prize is awarded for " pointing to alternatives to the present development and putting such alternatives into practice".
Nuclear power "no long-term solution" - Halonen
While Finland is one of the few countries currently building a new nuclear reactor, President Tarja Halonen has made it clear that she would prefer not to see any more. In an interview ahead of her state visit to Australia, Halonen said that nuclear power was "not a permanent solution to climate change" and compared it to "an aspirin".
Swedish envirotech sales top SEK 100 bn
Swedish companies sold environmental technology products for 102 billion SEK (€ 11 bn) in 2005, according to figures newly released by the Swedish Environmental Technology Council (Swentec) and Statistics Sweden. Exports totalled SEK 24 bn, but Swentec think the potential is much larger. Sales were up 36 % in two years. Products related to bioenergy are spearheading the growth.
Press release (Swedish)
Denmark to prioritise commercial application of renewables
The Danish Government recently announced that funding for RD&D on renewable energy will double to DKK 1 billion within 2010. Minister of Transport and Energy Flemming Hansen has now made it clear that the emphasis will be on demonstration and commercialisation, rather than more research. The head of the new body that will administer the programme "must have a business background".
Read more (Danish)
Finnish Greens: "Quit oil by 2030"
Ahead of the March elections, the Green League has proposed that Finland should set a target of zero oil consumption by 2030. According to recent polls, the Green League is likely to get some 9-10 % of the vote, and Prime Minister Vanhanen (Centre Party) has hinted that he may invite them back into the Government, should he keep his post. The Greens left the previous Government over the decision to build a new nuclear power plant.
Carlgren wants bigger rôle for UNEP
Speaking at UNEP's annual meeting in Nairobi this week, Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren called for UNEP to be upgraded to a UN agency and to play a bigger part in co-ordinating global efforts, especially on climate change. Carlgren wants more co-operation between UNEP and the private sector and less earmarking of national contributions, to give UNEP a freer hand.
Icelandic opposition wants more technology, not heavy industry
Ahead of the general elections in May, Iceland's main opposition party, the Social Democratic Alliance, has declared that it wants the country's economic future to be based on technological development, rather than more heavy industry. Energy-intensive industries based on the country's abundant hydropower resources have been an important feature of recent economic development in Iceland.
Swedish Energy Authority to fund CDM project in China
The Swedish Energy Authority has announced that it will fund a wind farm as well as an energy conservation project in China's Gansu Province, on the edge of the Gobi Desert. The project will reduce CO2 emissions over the 2008-12 period by 850.000 tonnes. The Energy Authority will be awarded credits for 10 % of this.
Read more (Swedish)
20 % GHG reduction by 2020 - or maybe not?
Commenting on the EU's preliminary goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 % within 2020, Minister of the Environment Helen Bjornøy wrote in article published by Aftenposten on 8 January that Norway "could not be any less ambitious". On 30 January, Prime Minister Stoltenberg made it clear that the 20 % reduction was not official policy. During question time in Parliament the day after, Mr. Børge Brende (Conservative) said that his party had been pleased at the 20 % target and demanded to know what the Government's actual position was. Ms. Bjørnøy was forced to admit that it has not yet set any target.
Question time 31 January (Norwegian) [05.02.07]
Big aluminium smelter for Greenland?
Two major aluminium companies are reportedly eyeing Greenland's large but hitherto almost untapped hydropower resources. The Home Rule Administration of Greenland has signed an agreement with both ALCOA and Hydro of Norway to conduct feasibility studies on the establisment of a 300.000-tonne-a-year aluminium plant at Søndre Strømfjord on the east coast. Along with a hydro-electric plant to supply the necessary electricity, the project would require an estimated investment of DKK 15 billion (€ 2 billion).
Climate awareness campaign launched in Norway
On January 29, the Prime Minister, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, and the Minister for the Environment, Ms. Helen Bjørnøy, jointly launched a national climate awareness campaign. This was one of the actions proposed by the Committee on Low Emissions (story of 5 October).
The two chose the Ullern Secondary School in Oslo as the venue for the launch, and presented the school with Al Gore's film An Incovenient Truth. It will later be distributed to all secondary schools in the country. The national campaign will open its own web gateway in March.
Press release (Norwegian) [02.02.07]
President of Iceland to join Indian Council for Sustainable Development
The President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, has accepted an invitation to serve on the Indian Council for Sustainable Development, reports Morgunbladid. The Council includes leading international as well as Indian figures in the fields of environment and development.
Swedish Sustainability Council to be abolished
The Swedish Ministry of Environment has announced that the Sustainability Council (Hållbarhetsrådet) and its secretariat in Umeå are to be wound up during the spring. The Council was established two years ago to assist local and regional authorities and organisations in their work towards sustainable development, among other things by promoting networking and exchange of experiences. The new Government has chosen instead to give priority to the work of its new Commission on Sustainable Development (see story of December 21).
Press release (Swedish)
Norway is “40 years behind Sweden” on bioenergy - Minister
At a conference in Trondheim, a Swedish expert claimed that Norway today is in the same position as Sweden in the 1960s, when it comes to utilising bioenergy and developing district heating. The Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Odd-Roger Enoksen (picture) afterwards had to admit that this was quite true: "We are 40 years behind Sweden". He promised massive investments in bioenergy over the next few years. Bioenergy today covers 5 % of Norwegian energy consumption, compared to 20 % in Sweden.
Read more (Norwegian) [29.01.07]
FOE Denmark call new energy strategy "a bad joke"
NOAH, the Danish Friends of the Earth organisation, today dismissed the Danish Government's new Energy Strategy (story of 23 January) as "totally inadequate", adding that the goal of reducing GHG emissions by 15 % "almost amounts to a bad joke". In NOAHs view, Denmark needs to reduce its emissions to "close to nil within 40 to 50 years".
NOAH press release (Danish)
Swedish environmentalists propose 10-point climate action plan
The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) has proposed a 10-point programme to reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions. Among the proposals are a system of tradeable quotas for vehicle fuels and “white certificates” for negawatts – i.e. efficiency measures – to complement the green certificates for renewable electricity. Several of the other proposals call for shifting more of the tax burden on to emissions and unsustainable consumption. SSNC is Sweden’s largest environmental organization with a membership of some 140,000.
Read more (Swedish)
Growing desert in southern Iceland
Desertification is not a threat limited to sub-tropical regions. The forests around the Hekla volcano were destroyed some two centuries ago, and the resulting desert is likely to spread unless more funds can be found for an ongoing reafforestation project.
Denmark to double renewable energy by 2025
The Danish Government has presented a new energy strategy, with the aim of doubling the renewable share of primary energy use from 15 % to 30 % by 2025. Total energy use is to stay at its present level, so that fossil fuel consumption will be reduced correspondingly.
Climate change at top of Nordic agenda
The incoming President of the Nordic Council, Dagfinn Høybråten of Norway, has announced that climate change will be high on the agenda for his one-year presidency. Høybråten hopes to strengthen co-operation with the EU and Russia on the issue.
Read more [22.01.07]
Finland’s EU presidency over: “Achieved most of our environmental goals”
The Finnish Government assesses the results of its half-year presidency of the EU as largely successful in the environmetal field. Finnish priorities were to advance policies in the areas of climate change, biodiversity, the marine environment, air pollution and waste, and to conclude a mid-term evaluation of the 6th Environmental Action Plan. Apart from this evaluation and the waste policy area, Finland achieved its objectives, according to outgoing Minister for the Environment Jan-Erik Enestam, who adds that Finland received "overwhelming praise" from the EU Commission for the conduct of its presidency.
Press release (Swedish)
Map of Denmark is redrawn
On January 1, the number of municipalities in Denmark was reduced by almost two-thirds, from 271 to 98. This follows a transitional year in which the old municipalities continued to exist, but under merged councils. In 2004, the Government had announced that all municipalities with populations of less than 20.000 would be required either to merge with one or more neighbours or to enter into closer co-operation with other municipalities.
Finland gets new Minister for the Environment
Minister for the Environment Jan-Erik Enestam was succeeded at the New Year by Stefan Wallin. Like his predecessor, Mr. Wallin represents the Swedish People’s Party, which has its electoral base among Finland’s Swedish-speaking minority. Along with the Environment portfolio, Mr. Wallin has also taken over the position of Minister responsible for Nordic Co-operation. Finland will have the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2007.
Swedish PM to head new Commission on Sustainable Development
The new Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, today announced the establishment of a new Commission on Sustainable Development. The Commission will be chaired by the Prime Minister himself, with Minister for the Envirinment Andreas Carlgren as deputy chair. Other members will include businesspeople, researchers and representatives of independent organisations as well as the authorities. The main focus of the Commission's work will be climate change and how to combine sustainable development with economic growth and technological innovation.
Press release (Swedish)
Finnish Goverment adopts Strategy for Sustainable Development
On 14 December, the the Finnish Government adopted the new National Strategy for Sustainable Development proposed by the National Commission on Sustainable Development. The Stragegy points out climate change as one of the three main challenges for the years ahead, along with global poverty and demographic change.
Press release (Swedish)
Nordic Conference on Local Sustainability: “Radical chages needed”
On October 26 and 27, over 500 representatives of municipalities, NGOs, national government bodies and others from all of the Nordic countries met in Oslo to discuss how to achieve sustainable development at the local level. They concluded that radical changes are needed, and that they can only be achieved through a broad mobilisation from the bottom up.
Centre-Right Government takes over in Sweden
At the Swedish elections on September 17, the four “Alliance” parties gained a majority of 8 in the 349-member Swedish Parliament, defeating the Social Democrats and their two supporting parties, the Greens and the Left Party. Prime Minister Göran Persson therefore resigned and a new Government was formed on 6 October by Fredrik Reinfeldt, leader of the Moderate (Conservative) Party.
Norway “can cut GHG emissions by 2/3 at little cost”
The Norwegian Commission on Low Emissions, led by Professor Jørgen Randers (picture) delivered its report to the Minister for the Environment on October 4. The expert Commission was appointed in March 2005 and asked to propose measures whereby Norway’s GHG emissions could be reduced by 50-80 % within 2050. In its report, it proposes a set of 15 measures that would reduce emissions from Norwegian territory by two-thirds.
Read more [05.10.06]
Cabinet changes in Iceland
Following the resignation of Mr. Halldór Ásgrimsson, Mr. Geir Haarde was appointed new Prime Minister of Iceland on June 15. He represents the moderately conservative Independence Party, which continues to govern in a coalition with the Progressive Party. Mr. Haarde also announced some other changes in the Cabinet. The Environment portfolio has been taken over by Ms. Jónína Bjartmarz (Progressive).
New Icelandic Government
Public-private partnership plans “hydrogen road” in Scandinavia
A Norwegian project to establish a ”hydrogen road” between cities Oslo and Stavanger has been expanded to include a Scandinavian network of hydrogen stations. The aim is to open a network of stations across the southwestern part of Scandinavia within 2012.
Read more [29.06.06]
Denmark starts programme to monitor Greenland ice
For several years there has been much uncertainty about how fast the inland ice on Greenland is melting. This is the reason why Denmark today announced the initiation of a programme to systematically monitor the melting of the Greenland ice.
Finland approves new Strategy for Sustainable Development
The Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development has approved a new strategy for sustainable development. The strategy is targeted at helping various actors implement solutions for sustainable development.
Companies urged not to use recycled tyres in football fields
The world football championship is rolling on, with Sweden as the Nordic representative; but are football fields with artificial turf full of dangerous chemicals?
Norway creates € 2.6 billion fund for greener energy
Norway is to create a 20 billion kroner fund (€2.6bn) to support investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, the government has announced. The fund will be administered by the energy agency Enova, and will more than double the funds available to the agency.
read more [13.06.06]
Report suggests new parterships for green technology
Danish Minister of environment Connie Hedegaard has presented a report descibing how to strengthen environmentally efficient technologies. Among the nine main initiatives in the report is a plan to create new binding partnerships between industry, research institutions and authorities.
read more [08.06.06]
Denmark launches green exports campaign
An ambitious political initiative has been launched by the environment, energy and foreign ministries to strengthen Denmark 's export of advanced energy- and environmental technology.
read more [30.05.06]
Norway wants municipalities to network for the environment
Norway's environment ministry has launched a five-year initiative to encourage the development of more ambitious environmental policies at the local level, the government has announced in a joint statement with the Norwegian Association of local and regional authorities (NALRA).
Read more [29.05.06]
Call for joint Nordic policy on bio-fuels
The Nordic Council Environment and Natural Resources Committee decided in Stockholm on 26 April that a joint Nordic policy on bio-fuels is needed.
Sweden presents energy policy
The Swedish Ministry of Sustainable Development has published a fact sheet that lines out in an abbreviated form the total energy policy of the Swedish Government.
Sweden ups funding for greener energy
The Swedish government last week presented its spring budget, with a nice surpise for those interested in greener energy: Extra funding for green energy amounting to 500 million SEK per year in 2007-8 (53.6 mill euros).
Tough compromise on drilling in Northern fishing waters
The Norwegian government has presented a plan for management of the natural resources along the Northern coast of the country. The much debated plan implies a difficult compromise between coalition partners Labour and Socialist Left.
Sweden: - High ambitions on renewable electricity
In new draft legislation, Sweden raises ambitions on renewable electricity and signals a prolongation of the green certificate system to 2030.
Denmark creates national parks?
A broad national committee has delivered its recommendations on the establishment of national parks in Denmark. Following pilot projects in 7 locations, a surprising agreement was reached this week in the 32 man strong committee which included agricultural interests.
Read more [02.03.06]
Emissions from Finnish fireplaces and boilers targeted
The Finnish Ministry of Environment reports that it has instigated a study on possible future emission standards for boilers and fireplaces using solid fuels.
Read more [02.03.06]
Norway abandons green certificate scheme
Attempts to establish a common scheme of green energy certificates between Norway and Sweden stranded this week as Norway withdrew from joining Sweden's scheme. The termination of the process is met with heated protest from energy suppliers, environmental organizations and the parliamentary opposition.
Read more [01.03.06]
UNEP: - Drilling in the Barents sea is gambling with the environment
The UNEP Yearbook on the earth's environmental challenges warns about Norwegian drilling for oil in the vulnerable Barents sea and Lofoten region. [08.01.06] Read more
Norway proposes ban on dumping of biodegradable waste
The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT)
has announced a limit of 5% total organic carbon in waste going to landfill.
If the proposal is accepted, Norway's landfill policy will be the strictest in Europe. [08.01.06]
New satellite image map of Finland available
A satellite image map and geoinformation database describing land use and
land cover in Finland have been completed at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE),
as a part of the European project CORINE2000. The map shows the locations of built areas,
agricultural fields, forests, open woodlands and non-forested areas, wetlands and water
bodies and can be used by decision-makers who want to know the consequences of their
decisions on the land resources and environment of a certain area.
Sweden's report on implementing MDGs
Kofi Annan will in 2005 launch a report on the
Millennium Development Goals implementation world wide. So far, 65 countries have reported.
The recent Swedish report pays special attention to the eight MDG, to develop a global
partnership for development. The new Swedish policy for global development, increased
development aid, more free trade and better co-ordination of aid are all topics for the
report on reaching the MDGs.
Guide to environmental legislation
The Ministry of the Environment has launched an online guide to governmental
institutions responsible for the various environmental legislation.
The site is as yet only in Norwegian.
The Flower saw its best year in 2004
The Flower Week starting October 18 is one of the events of the Danish-EU Flower Campaign.
2004 has been the best year ever for the eco-label. In Europe there are 2002 licenses to use the
Flower label, corresponding to about 1,500 products. This is a 60 per cent increase in two years.
In Denmark, consumers can choose among more than 200 Flower-labelled products - an unprecedented number
New Minister of the Environment appointed
Sigridur Anna Thordardottir has a degree in history and Greek, and has been working as a teacher for 25 years.
From 1991 she has been politically active at the National level, serving as a representative of the
Minister of the Environment stepped down
Acting Prime Minister and leader of the Progressive Party
Halldor Ásgrimsson announced that Siv Fridleifsdóttir stepped
down as Minister of the Environment effective 15 September 2004. "There's
a day after this day. I am not quitting as a parliamentarian," Fridleifsdóttir said.
She has been Minister of the Environment since 1999.
Calow has replaced Lomborg
Director of the Danish Institute for Environmental
Evaluation, the controversial Bjørn Lomborg, has left the position.
professor of zoology at the University of Sheffield, has replaced him.
New Minister of the Environment
The journalist Connie Hedegaard entered office as the new Danish Minister
of the Environment on 2 August.The Conservative Party strenghtens its postition in the Government, and
now has seven out of 19 Ministers.
Environmental index for Norway
The NGO The Future in our hands (FIVH)
has drawn up an environmental
index for Norway.
More... (In Norwegian)
New Minister of Environment
Knut Arild Hareide has been appointed Minister of Environment in Norway.
He follows Børge Brende, who has become Minister of Trade and Industry.
Hareide has been deputy leader of the Christian Democratic Party since May 2003.
Conference on Sustainable Development Indicators
The Ministry of Finance organised an international conference on Sustainable
Development in Oslo, June 22 and 23. On June 23, the indicator committee presented
a preliminary indicator set for Norway.
[SWEDEN 10.06.2004]Action needed to achieve environmental goals
Sweden's environmental policies are producing results. The effects of acidification and eutrophication are abating, and the impacts on health of pollutants in the outdoor environment have also been reduced. Eleven of the fifteen national environmental quality objectives can be achieved on time, provided that additional action is taken.
New strategy for Sustainable Development
Sweden's New Strategy for Sustainable Development was published on 22 April 2004.