Iceland to become oil player?
Iceland is to invite tenders from companies wishing to drill for oil in the so-called Dragon Zone, which lies between its northeasten coast and the Norwegian island of Jan Mayen. As the zone lies astride the boundary between the exclusive economic zones of the two countries, Norway will have a 25 % interest in any oil or gas extracted on the Icelandic side, under the terms of a treaty dating from 1981 and more recent negotiations over the specifics. Should any resources be found and exploitation follow, this would be the first oil or gas production in Iceland or its marine economic zone.
Read more [30.12.08]
Sweden ranked best of a bad lot
In this year's version of the "Climate Change Performance Index" published by German NGO Germanwatch, Sweden took fourth place. The index ranks the world's 57 top polluting nations by their efforts to cut GHG emissions. Last year Sweden came first. The poorer result this time does not, however, mean that anyone else has overtaken Sweden. Rather, Germanwatch has concluded that no country is doing enough to deserve a medal, and has therefore left the three top places empty. Denmark came in 10th, Norway 11th and Finland a dismal 48th.
Read more [30.12.08]
Renewble Energy Act adopted in Denmark
A new law consolidating previous legislation and incorporating several new measures to speed up the development of renewable energy (see story of 9 November) has been adopted almost unanimously by the Danish Parliament. Only the Red-Green Alliance, which has four out of 179 MPs, dissented. Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard expects the new law to clear the way for the development of a further 1300 MW of windpower over the next for years, or enough to supply some 40 % of Danish households with electricity.
Read more (Danish) [20.12.08]
High-speed rail network for Sweden?
Swedish Infrastructure Minister Åsa Thorstensson has appointed Mr. Gunnar Malm to lead a feasibility study on the construction of a network of high-speed (> 250 km/h) rail links in Sweden. Mr. Malm, a former financial director of the Swedish State Railways and present CEO of Arlandabanan Infrastructure AB, is to report on whether such a network would be profitable, which lines should be given priority and how construction might be financed.
Read more (Swedish) [20.12.08]
Two wind farms get go-ahead in Norway
Enova, the state company charged with promoting renewable energy in Norway, has granted investment subsidies a large wind farm at Høg-Jæren south of Stavanger as well as an expansion of the Mehuken wind farm north of Bergen. The two farms will produce about 300 GWh of electricity annually. Windpower development came to a standstill in Norway last year, as potential developers claimed existing levels of government support were too low to make them profitable. The grants for Høg-Jæren and Mehuken are the first under a new and more generous funding scheme introduced earlier this year (story of 25 April). Enova expects to announce grants for further projects in the spring of 2009.
Read more (Norwegian)
New Danish transport strategy gives climate higher priority
The Danish Ministry of Transport has presented a new strategy for the 2009-2010 period, signalling that climate concerns from now on will be given significantly higher priority. The Government is to invest DKK 90 billion (€ 12 bn) in a new infrastructure fund, of which at least DKK 50 bn are to be spent on upgrading railways. Congestions charges will be introduced and taxes are to be restructured so that new cars - especially low-emission vehicles - will become cheaper, but fuel more expensive. More new road projects may be rejected on environmental grounds. The Danish Society for Nature Conservation, which has often been sharply critical of government transport policies, takes a largely positive view (statement in Danish only) of the new policy.
Read more (Danish)
Swedish GHG emissions fell by 2 % in 2007
According to figures released by the Swedish EPA, the country's GHG emissions - already among the lowest in the OECD area on a per capita basis, along with those of France and Switzerland - fell by 2 % from 2006 to 2007. At 65.4 million tons of CO2 equivalents, emissions were 9.1 % lower than in 1990. Sweden is thus clearly set to overachieve not only its obligation under the Kyoto Protocol and EU burden-sharing agreement, but also the more ambitious national target of a 4 % reduction from 1990-2010. Continuing substitution of bioenergy for oil in district heating plants explains most of last year's improvement.
Read more (Swedish - with link to inventory report in English) [13.12.08]
"No new deal without flexible mechanisms" - Hedegaard
Danish Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard says that Denmark will not support any new global climate agreement unless it includes the opportunity for countries to trade in emissions permits. The flexible mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol, in particular CDM, have come in for criticism on a number of counts, ranging from the view that they allow rich countries to drag their feet in cutting domestic emissions to allegations that some CDM projects will not deliver the same reductions in reality as they do on paper. However, Ms. Hedegaard maintains that much of the criticism is unwarranted and based on misunderstandings.
"Potential energy savings worth € 28 billion"
The Norwegian Energy Council, an advisory body including representatives of energy industries, other businesses and research institutions, has delivered a report on potentials and policies for improved energy efficiency in Norway to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. The group suggests that Norway should save at least 20 % of present stationary energy use, or 36 TWh annually, through efficiency measures by the year 2020. According to the report, such savings would have a present value of NOK 250 bn (€ 28 bn). Almost half of the potential could be in the building sector. To achieve the goal, the Council suggests that Enova, the state company charged with promoting energy efficiency and renewables, should spend at least 1/3 of its funds on improving efficiency.
Read more (Norwegian) [06.12.08]
Easier to develop Swedish wind power in future?
The Swedish Energy Agency has proposed a package of measures designed to reduce the amount of red tape potential developers of wind power must overcome. The changes would include simplified rules for environmental assessments, waiving the requirement that developers must propose alternative sites, and simpler rules for establishing grid connections. Also included in the package are proposals to make more resources available for such connections and removing provisions in the tax system that present a hurdle to the establishment of windpower co-operatives.
Read more (Swedish)
Fingrid doubts major contribution from windpower
The head of the companty responsible for Finland's national electricity grid (Fingrid), Mr. Jukka Ruusuen, has criticised the Government's climate and energy strategy for assuming that Finland could cover part of its future electricity needs by developing 2000 MW of wind power. Ruusunen claims that since wind power production will not vary in tandem with power consumption, more of Finnish demand will still have to be covered from condensing thermal power plants. (The Danish experience might suggest otherwise: in that country windpower already covers some 20 % of electricity consumption, more than would be covered by 2000 MW in Finland. Denmark solves the problem of peak loads and low winds partly through domestic thermal backup capacity and partly through imports.)
Read more [28.11.08]
"No big role for natural gas in Sweden"
A study of European and Swedish gas markets, commissioned by the Swedish Energy Agency, puts the non-development of any major natural gas infrastructure in Sweden down to the fact that the Swedish energy market from the 1960s to the 1980s functioned better than in most other European countries. Such a development would not have been profitable, according to the study. Although a limited gas network, based on imports from Denmark, was built in the southwestern corner of the country around 1990, gas still covers only 2 % of Swedish energy use. Despite the possibility of new pipelines from Russian and/or Norwegian gas fields passing over or close to Swedish territory, the study sees no likelihood of a major increase in Swedish consumption.
Read more (Swedish)
Danish PM envisions fossil-free future
Adressing a convention of his Liberal Party, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke at length about his commitment to sustainable energy and a green tax reform. Rasmussen also suggested (as Finnish and Swedish cabinet ministers recently have) that investments in sustainable energy could pave a way out of the current economic crisis. Shortly after taking the helm in 2001, the Fogh Rasmussen Government eliminated most subsidies for sustainable energy and froze energy taxes. The last 2-3 years have seen a remarkable shift in its energy and climate policies, confirmed anew in the PM's speech.
Read more (Danish)
Progress Party to propose Low Energy Commission
In June, FoE Norway published a report on potentials for energy savings in Norway - in particular for reducing te extensive use of electricity for heating in Norway. The report was followed by a letter to the Government suggesting that a Low Energy Commission should be appointed to give recommendations on how to realise these potentials. The right-wing Progress Party, not otherwise known for its activism on green issues, has now agreed to present a motion in Parliament requiring the Government to appoint such a commission.
Read more (Norwegian) [21.11.08]
Electricity tariffs to inverse Beaufort scale?
The biggest Danish Government and Opposition parties alike have agreed to mandate a restructuring of electricity tariffs. Consumers will pay more during hours and seasons of peak demand, and less when demand is slack - but they will also pay less when there are strong winds. Denmark plans to increase national windpower generation until it equals at leats 50 % of national demand for electricity. By then, any power demand that can be allowed to vary with wind force will be an economic advantage.
Read more (Danish)
"Halve energy use - maintain welfare"
According to a recent study by energy consultants SWECO for the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Naturskyddsföreningen), the country could more than halve its energy consumption by 2030 while maintaining living standards. The Societyalso commissioned a separate study on political measures to achieve such a target, which was carried out by another consultancy, FourFact. They recommended a market for energy efficiency measures ("white certificates" to complement the "green certificates" for renewable energy), tighter building codes, better enery labelling of appliances and a restructuring of electricity tariffs to make cost directly proportional to consumption.
Read more (Swedish)
New law on renewable energy proposed in Denmark
The Danish Government has newly presented a Bill on Renewable Energy to Parliament. Besides collating earlier piecemeal legislation relating to renewables into a single Act, the Bill includes several provisions designed to reduce the level of conflict over new wind power developments. These include a right for local residents to secure a 20 % interest in any new wind power project, a right to compensation for anyone whose property looses value due to such developments and extra funding for environmental and recreational purposes in municipalities affected by renewable energy projects.
Read more (Danish)
Icelandic company awarded Nordic environment prize
The Nordic Council has awarded its Nature and Environment Prize for 2008 to Marorka, an Icelandic company that specialises in energy solutions for shipping. At the prize ceremony, Managing Director of Marorka Dr. Jon Agust Thorsteinsson commended his employeees for making "a supreme effort in the development of methods for reducing oil consumption that has now started to offer a return on investment".
Widening circle of Swedish organisations demand 40 % emissions cut
Almost one year ago, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) demanded a 40 % reduction in the country's GHG emissions by 2020 (story of 30.11.07). This is now the objective of a joint campaign by the SSNC, the Swedish UN Association and the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden. Some of Sweden's largest trades unions, as well as major enterprises and 23.000 individuals, have already signed a petition supporting their proposal.
Read more (Swedish)
Sweden ups spending for climate research
The Swedish Govenment has announced a proposal to spend an additional SEK 500 million (€ 50 mn) on climate-related research over the 2009-2012 period. Most of the money will be devoted to research on nergy technology, with smaller additional sums for climate modelling, research on the impacts of climate change and into sustainable mangagement of natural resources.
Read more (Swedish)
Trondheim receives award for "courageous climate policy"
Norway's third-largest city, Trondheim, has received the Ministry of Environment's Urban Environment Award for "daring to adopt measures (to reduce GHG emissions) which demand courage". This summer the City Council adopted a comprehensive package of measures designed to reduce emissions from transport by 20 % over the next decade, of which some - including one that reserves more road space for buses at the expense of cars - have already been effected. Trondheim was the first municipality in Norway to establish a political Climate Committee and is also a national leader in district heating. Incidentally, local polls show continuing strong support for Mayor Rita Ottervik, whose Labour-led coalition won the last two elections by landslides.
Read more (Norwegian) [25.10.08]
Danish climate campaign wins European award
The ”One ton less” campaign of the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy has won the 2008 award for best practice in environmental communication of the EU's "Green Spider" network. According to a recent survey, 17 % of Danes claim to have reduced their CO2 emissions as a result of the campaign. The jury was particularly impressed by one of the campaign's symbols - a giant globe whose volume equals that of 1 ton of CO2.
Read more (Danish)
Swedish motorists, environmentalists join forces over emission standards
Motorists' organisations are not generally known for taking the environmental vanguard, but the largest such organisation in Sweden - Motormännen - has joined forces with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in demanding that the Government fight to prevent the EU from backing down on proposed CO2 emissions standards. The EU Commission's proposal to limit average emissions from new cars to 130 g CO2/km by 2012 has run into stiff resistance from lobbyists. The position taken by Swedish motorists is all the more interesting as they currently drive Europe's most polluting cars (story of 29 August).
Read more (Swedish)
Vanhanen sees climate technology as antidote to recession
Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has said in an interview with national television that he sees investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies as a field for growth, and warned the EU against lowering its climate ambitions in the face of recession. Vanhanen compared the situation to the deep recession Finland suffered in the early 1990s, when heavy investments in research and development of new technologies helped pull the country out.
Read more [18.10.08]
Norwegian Budget: € 230 mn for CCS
As part of the Government's Budget for 2009, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Riis-Johansen (picture) has announced that NOK 1.9 bn (€ 230 mn) will be spent on research into and demonstration of carbon capture and storage. The demonstration part involves projects at two gas-fired power plants, which have been repeatedly postponed. Also, NOK 300 mn will be spent on new energy research centres, and (as announced in connection with the 2007 Budget) a further NOK 10 bn will be transferred to a permanent fund, from which the interest goes to the State company charged with promoting sustainable energy, Enova. In another Budget measure, Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen announced that taxes on cars emitting less than 120 g of CO2 per km will be further reduced.
Read more (Norwegian) - (Photo: Torbjørn Tandberg) [10.10.08]
Three Danish "Energy Towns" named
A jury appointed by the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy has now selected the three towns (from a field of 13) that are to showcase Danish efforts towards sustainable energy use. They will be the capital, Copenhagen, the city of Kolding in East Jutland and the small town of Skive in West Jutland. According to Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, all three have "shown that they can achieve results and have ambitious plans". The Energy Towns initiative should not be confused with the "Climate Communities" project initiated by the Danish Society for Nature Conservation, although one of the selection criteria for "Energy Towns" was willingness to particiapte in that project as well (story of 15.08).
Read more (Danish)
Debate about energy futures heats up in Finland
In Finland, where governments have traditionally given given very high priority to industrial growth when shaping energy policies, an unusual debate is unfolding. The Government has now confirmed that it plans to cap electricity consumption at slightly above the present level (cf. story of 09.09). The Federation of Energy Industries has reacted strongly, saying in an apparent reference to current economic problems that "now is not the time to limit consumption" but to deliver more energy at competitive prices. Meanwhile, former PM Paavo Lipponen has joined the fray by claiming that Finland will need all of three new nuclear reactors.
Sweden to spend SEK 417 bn on transport infrastructure
The Swedish Government has presented a Bill on transport infrastructure to Parliament, in which it proposes to spend SEK 417 bn (about € 43 bn) on transport infrastructure over the 2010-2021 period. This would include SEK 136 bn for roads and SEK 64 bn for railways, with the remainder reserved for projects not yet specified by mode of transport. The Government itself claims that the Bill "sets user needs (i.e. those of businesses and travellers) first", and although reducing GHG emissions also figures on the list of objectives, it appears to have much lower priority. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, the country's largest environmental NGO, claims that adopting the Bill would simply "short-circuit Swedish climate policy".
Read more (Swedish)
Renewble energy supply up by
10 % in Denmark
The supply of renewable energy from sources such as biomass and wind power increased by 10 % from 2006 to 2007, according to the Danish Energy Agency. Renweable sources - not including imports of hydro-eledtricity - thus covered a record 17 % of total energy use, and 29 % of electricity consumption. Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard says that Denmark "will continue to be a frontrunner" in this field, but noted that growing energy use in the transport sector, which still runs almost entirely on fossil fuels, poses a major challenge.
Read more (Danish)
Norway to fund UN forest conservation project
Norway is to fully fund the start-up of the UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Programme, at a cost of US $ 35 million. The programme will explore and promote measures to conserve and enhance carbon storage in tropical forests, while also delivering benefits to local communities. Nine tropical countries have expressed interest in taking part in the first phase of the programme. Norway has previously pledged to spend much larger sums on bilateral projects to conserve rainforests.
Read more - (Photo: Talamanca Open Photography Project) [29.09.08]
Finland could cut GHG emissions by 60 % within 2050, says study
According to a study by the Finnish Technical Research Centre (VTT), the country could cut its GHG emissions by 60 % from the 1990 level within 2050. Although this would require massive changes in the country's energy system, the study claims it could be accomplished at a cost of no more than 0.6 % of GDP in 2050. .
Read more [12.09.08]
Swedish Budget: Foreign aid and RD & D get most new climate funding
The Swedish Government's proposed budget for 2009 allocates 4 billion SEK (€ 420 million) over the 2009-2011 period to climate-related measures within the development aid budget, and a further 670 million SEK to projects covered by the Kyoto Prototcol's flexible mechanisms, particularly CDM. Of domestic outlays, 1.2 bilion SEK will go to developmemt and demonstration projects related especially to second generation biofuels, biogas and solar energy, and 584 million SEK to research on adaptation to climate change. Funding for municipal energy advisors will continue, but the KLIMP programme through which central government funding was provided for sustainable energy projects at the local level will be discontinued, as previously announced.
Read more (Swedish)
Biggest wind farm yet gets go-ahead in Denmark
The Danish Parliament has approved plans for the construction of what will be the country's biggest wind farm to date - consisting of 175 turbines to be located in the Kattegat, between Jutland and the island of Anholt. At 400 MW, it will have twice the capacity of the Rødsand II wind farm for which a contract was awarded earlier this year (story of 25 April). Expected to come on stream in 2012, it will generate enough electricity to cover the demand of about 15 % of all Danish households.
Finnish Government, industry disagree on energy scenarios
According to the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, the Government's climate strategy, due to be presented later this autumn, will be based on the assumption that demand for electricity will level off at about 103 TWh per year in 2020. This would make further nuclear reactors - beyond the one now being built (Finland's fifth) and possibly one more - superfluous. Finnish Energy Industries disagree, and expect strong growth in power demand to continue, up to 120 TWh/yr in 2030. The Federation of Technology Industries is also worried and forecasts big losses of jobs unless more electricity is made available.
Read more [09.09.08]
Electric cars popular in Norway
Norway currently has about 2,500 electric cars, most of them in and around Oslo, which has been called the "electric car capital of the world". Interest in them is growing apace. Norway, which has never produced conventional cars, now has two makers of elctric cars - THINK in Aurskog-Høland east of Oslo and El-Bil Norge in Oslo itself. THINK, which currently turns out three cars a day, now has a waiting list of 700 and hopes to increase production sevenfold in a few years, while El-Bil Norge will turn out 300-350 cars this year, up from 20 five years ago. Despite a flurry of interest in Denmark around 1990 and in Sweden a few years later, the market for electric vehicles in other Nordic countries has since been very small. Norway has provided a broader range of tax and other incentives than the other countries. (Photo: THINK Global.)
Read more (Norwegian) [05.09.08]
Iceland sees afforestation as important climate measure
Speaking on the occasion of a meeting of Nordic forestry ministers, Ms. Brynhildur Bjarnadóttir of the Icelandic Forestry Service called afforestation in northern regions a powerful weapon against climate change, making Iceland a case in point. In fact, Iceland should have big potential, as most of the country below the mountains and glaciers was forested prior to human settlement in the 9th century, but was almost completely deforested by the 14th. Norway, where forest biomass has long been growing strongly since the timber cut only equals about 1/3 of annual regrowth, has also made a point of this in its climate strategy. in Finland and Sweden, most of the annual growth is extracted, but in all these countries, climate change is itself making forests advance northwards and upwards.
Price tag for new Finnish reactor up by 50 %
The cost of the new nuclear reactor being built at Olkiluoto in Finland now looks set to come in at € 4.5 billion, rather than the projected € 3 billion. The project has also been plagued by major delays - the reactor was meant to come on stream in 2009, but is not expected to be ready until 2011. Part of the reason for the cost overrun is that the French contractor has had to deploy a bigger workforce in order to avoid still further delays.
Read more [29.08.08]
Despite improvement, Swedes still buy Europe's worst gas guzzlers
According to a survey by the European Federation for Transport and Environment, covering 18 EU countries, the average CO2 emissions of new petrol and diesel cars sold in Sweden fell by 3.8 % from 2006 to 2007 - the biggest improvement in any of the countries surveyed. Nevertheless, their emissions - at 180 g CO2/km in 2007 compared with an EU average of 158 - were still the highest of all. New Finnish cars were next worst, at 176 g CO2/km, whereas those sold in Denmark were close to the EU average. So were those from new cars in Norway, which was not included in the survey but where average emissions dropped by a full 10 % from 2006-2007, following a realignment of car taxes to favour those with lower emissions.
Norway to subsidise solar collectors
The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has announced that solar collectors for household water heating will hereafter be eligible for a subsidy, as heat pumps and furnaces for wood pellets already are. This is the first time support has been offered for solar heating systems in Norway – in contrast to Denmark and Sweden, where subsidies have been available for extended periods, though not continuously, over the past 20 years, and such systems are munch more common today. The subsidy offered will be 20 % of the cost, up to a maximum of NOK 10,000 (€ 1,250).
Read more (Norwegian) [27.08.08]
Danish employers lukewarm to climate campaign
The ”One ton less” campaign launched by the Danish Ministry of Climate and Energy with the aim of getting people to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions has so far had limited success in bringing businesses on board. The campaign has targeted ten of Denmark’s biggest enterprises in the hope of getting them to promote its aims among their employees, but only one (Danske Bank) has signed up, while two more (the postal service and Novo Nordisk) have said they intend to do so. 500 smaller businesses have joined the campaign, but their employees make up less than 1 % of the Danish workforce.
Sweden set to export more power
In its latest short-term projections, the Swedish Energy Agency expects the country to be a net exporter of electricity in all of the years 2008-2010, and that net exports will reach 7 TWh - equal to 4.5 % of electricity production. Consumption of electricity in Sweden is now fairly stable, whereas production from wind power and CHP based on bioenergy is growing apace. Wind power alone is expected to grow from 1.4 TWh i 2007 to 3.4 TWh in 2010. Also, technical improvements at the country's three nuclear plants (with a total of 10 reactors) are still leading to slight increases in their output, although there are no plans to build new ones. No expansion of hydropower is expected.
Read more (Swedish)
More Danish "Climate Communities"
Four more Danish municipalities will be joining the "Climate Communities" programme launched by the Danish Society for Nature Conservation during August, bringing the total to 12. Member municipalities must undertake to cut the CO2 emissions from local government activities by at least 2 % per year, and work towards reductions in the whole municipality. At least two of them intend to make their whole communities carbon neutral within 15-20 years. The Ministry of Climate and Energy has announced that three "Energy Towns" will shortly be selected to showcase sustainable policies. Membership or pending membership of the "Climate Communities" will be a prerequisite for selection as an "Energy Town".
Read more (Danish)
ESA objects to Norwegian allocation plan for CO2 permits
The EFTA Surveillance Authority, which oversees the implementation of EU regulations in non-EU members of the European Economic Area, has lodged objections to Norway's proposed allocation plan for CO2 emissions permits. Until these are resolved, Norway will not be able to join the EU emissions trading system. ESA's objections concern a proposal to grant free permits on the basis of historical emissions from 1998-2001, which it says would discriminate against more recently established enetrprises, and also the proposal to earmark a special quota of free permits for gas-fired power plants.
Read more (Norwegian) [07.08.08]
Free buses for all in Reykjavík?
The Icelandic capital recently made public tranport free for students. Now, Mayor Ólafur F. Magnusson (picture) says he aims to follow the example of Iceland's second largest town, Akureyri, and make bus rides free for everyone before he leaves office. The next step on the way would be to introduce free rides for children and senior citizens.
New round of oil drilling licenses announced in Norway
The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has announced the opening of a further 79 blocks of the Norwegian and Barents seas for oil and gas exploration. This will be the 20th licensing round since the first wells were drilled in Norwegian waters in the 1960s. It will also be one of the largest, even though the number of blocks was reduced from an originally proposed 104 due to objections by a number of organisations and agencies, inter alia on environmental grounds. However, the Ministry has made it clear that this does not necessarily mean that an upcoming management plan for the Norwegian Sea will necessarily exclude them from future exploration.
Read more [07.08.08]
Stockholm Council proposes deep emissions cuts
The centre-right majority on Stockholm City Council has proposed a target of reducing the city's per capita GHG emissions from four to three tons per capita within a mere seven years, i.e. within 2015. (This refers to direct emissions, which are considerably less than the Swedish average, since few industrial enterprises are located in the city.) The target would be achieved through a mix of reductions in car traffic, more low emission vehicles, improved energy efficiency in buildings and lifestyle changes. The Opposition parties on the council are not satisfied, and want to examine the feasibility of halving emissions to two tons per capita.
Read more (Swedish)
Danish Government saves electricity
The Danish Government, which is to host next year's climate summit, has fittingly started to save energy in its own offices. Until two years ago, electricity use by the Danish state grew inexorably. During 2006 and 2007 it has been cut by 10 %, through both more efficient technology and increased awareness, e.g. about proper running of ventilation systems. To make sure performance goes on improving, ministries and agencies will from now on face annual reductions in their energy budgets. They are already required to implement all saving measures with a payback time of five years or less.
Read more (Danish)
Halvorsen sticks to guns over fuel taxes
In its mid-term revision of the Budget for 2008, the Norwegian Government has announced that taxes on diesel fuel and petrol will be raised by the equivalent of 1.2 and 0.6 Eurocents respectively. This follows up an agreement with several Opposition parties in February, but the decision has helped stoke a rising tide of protests against high fuel prices. Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen (picture) says there will be no backtracking, and claims that fuel is not particularly expensive compared to incomes in Norway.
Praise for Swedish energy policies
In a report on Swedish energy policies, the Interantional Energy Agency (IEA) praises the country as one of those which have done the most to promote energy efficiency and renewables. However, the IEA (like many Swedish politicians) doubts that Sweden will be able to meet future climate goals without keeping its nuclear power plants, and saying that nuclear policy needs to be "clarified". Also, the agency recommends a stronger focus on the transport sector - which produces the largest share of Sweden's GHG emissions - in future policymaking.
90 % of Norwegians claim will to fight climate change
According to a poll conducted by the Norwegian Ministry for the Environment, 90 % of the population claim to be willing to do their bit to save the climate, including a majority who would pay more for polluting goods and services. However, only 42 % are "seriously" or "quite" worried about climate change, with a further 41 % responding that they were "a little" worried. The latter figures have risen in recent years, but are still no higher than they were around 1990.
Read more (Norwegian) [05.06.08]
Iceland to differentiate fuel taxes?
A commission appointed by the Icelandic Ministry of Finance has proposed that taxes on petrol and diesel fuel should be made strongly progressive, so that owners of cars with high emissions would pay much more than others. At present, Icelanders drive some of the most polluting vehicles in Europe. Denmark and Norway have previously differentiated point taxes on cars as such, so that the heavy polluters cost more to buy.
"Green" cars still increasing market share in Sweden
The growing international controversy over the use of agricultural biofuels to power vehicles has apparently not dampened Swedes' appetite. "Green" cars - which include electric, hybrid and biogas-driven vehicles, but most of which run either on ethanol or biodiesel - reached a market share of 29.5 % in the first quarter of 2008, over twice as much as in the same period last year. In the city of Trollhättan they now make up over half of all new car sales.
Read more - Update 05.06.08: Govenment ups support for electric cars
Denmark to burn more coal?
A majority in the Danish Parliament, representing the governing coalition and its supporting parties, appears to favour the idea of allowing two of the country's newer power plants to include coal in their fuel mix. Hitherto, the Avedøre II and Skærbæk plants have been prevented from doing so under a law from 1997 banning the use of coal in new plants. They therefore burn a mix of gas, oil and biofuels. Opposition spokespeople claim the likely move is designed to raise the sale price of shares in the plants' owner, DONG Energy, soon to be privatised.
Power shortage in Iceland?
The idea of a shortage of power in Iceland, which has some of the world's largest hydro, wind and geothermal resources per capita, may seem odd. Yet that is exactly what Minister of Industry Össur Skarphedinsson recently voiced fears about, following a decision by Reykjavik Energy to abandon plans for a major geothermal development at Bitra. The National Planning Agency had given the project thumbs down on environmental grounds.
Potential windpower sites identified in Sweden
A study by the Swedish Energy Agency has identified sites "of national interest" for coming windpower developments, including upland areas in the interior of the country as well as coastal sites. According to the Agency, they have the potential to deliver 20 TWh of electricity a year, or enough to supply all households in Sweden (not counting electricity used for residential heating). The potential for offshore wind power developments is not included in the figure.
Read more (Swedish)
Most Danish municipalities acting on climate
According to a survey just conducted for the municiapl association Local Government Denmark, two-thirds of the country's 98 municipalities now have activities in the field of climate protection. A further 22 % have plans to start such activities, while only 9 % are so far doing nothing. One-third of municipalities are also working out how to adapt to climate change.
Read more (Danish)
Government agencies at odds over oil drilling in Norway
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has recently proposed that 104 new sections of the Norwegian continental shelf should be opened for oil and gas exploration. This would be the largest number of drllling licences for which oil companies have ever been invited to apply at once since the earliest days of the oil industry in Norway. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has asked interested parties for their opinions, and received a prompt reply from the Government's own Directorate of Nature Management, which strongly objects on the grounds that going ahead would reduce the ongoing development of a management plan for the Norwegian Sea to "a pretence".
Read more (Norwegian) [09.05.08]
Majority of Finns against more nuclear plants
According to a poll just conducted for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), 53 % of the population are opposed to building any more nuclear plants in the country, with only 34 % in favour. Men are evenly divided on the issue, but women are against by more than three to one. The question is very much on the table, as the responsible Minister has indicated that he wants applications to build a sixth nuclear plant submitted as soon as possible (story of 25 April).
Read more [09.05.08]
E.ON to build new wind farm off Denmark
The Swedish subsidiary of German energy giant E.ON has won the competition to build an offshore winnd farm off Lolland in southern Denmark. At 200 MW, the project (Rødsand II) will tie with the Horns Rev II wind farm for the title of Denmark's largest, and supply two percent of the country's electricity. The decision follows a protracted process in which the Government had to rewrite the terms of tender in order to attract sufficiently interested bidders. Only two were involved at the last stage - E.ON and DONG Energy.
Read more (Danish)
Norway steps up support for wind power
Norwegian Minister of Energy, Åslaug Haga (picture) has announced a new scheme to get wind power investments in the country out of the doldrums, and achieve the target of producing 3 annual TWh of electricity from wind by 2010. Few companies - not even those who have already received planning permission for new wind farms - have been willing to make investments over the past two years, as they have regarded the support offered as too small. The new scheme is intended to provide sufficient funding to secure companies an 8 % rate of return on their investments. Projects will receive support in order of cost-efficiency, hopefully until the target is met.
Pekkarinen calls for speedier nuclear plans
Finnish Minister of Enterprise and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen has called on the three companies interested in building a sixth nuclear reactor in the country to present their applications "as soon as possible". The three are Fortum, Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) and Fennovoima. The Minister, who had previously given the impression that there was no need to hurry until next year, is apparently concerned to have the applications soon enough to settle the matter within the present parliamentary term. Finland has four reactors operating today and a fifth nearing completion.
Read more [25.04.08]
Hedegaard denies enthusiasm for biofuels
Amid growing global controversy over the use of farmland to produce biofuels, Danish Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard has come in for criticism for allegedly promoting it. She strongly refutes the allegation, saying that her sights have always been set on second generation biofuels and that her policy for the time being is not to exceed the EU target of using 5.75 % of biofuels, while Opposition spokesmen have demanded more. So far Sweden has been the only Nordic country actually to use biofuels on a large scale.
Read more (Danish)
Sweden on track for renewable power target
According to the Swedish Energy Agency, 12.7 TWh of electricity from renewable sources qualifying for the country's green certificate scheme were produced in 2007. The scheme does not cover long established hydropower, which accounts for almost half of electricity consumption in Sweden. Production fron new renewable sources has increased by 6.2 TWh since 2002, meaning that the country is on track to reach the official target of 17 TWh by 2016. Bioenergy has so far accounted for most of the green power, but the share of wind power is increasing.
Danish energy technology exports forge ahead
2007 was another strong year for Danish exporters of energy technology, according to the Danish Energy Agency. Exports grew by 8 %, compared with 2 % for Danish exports in general, and topped 50 billion DKK (€ 6.2 bn) for the first time. More markets may be opening in India, which has just signed a 9-point agreement (Danish) on energy co-operation with Denmark, including projects in the fields of wind power, bioenergy and energy efficiency.
Read more (Danish)
Danish utilities surpass energy saving targets
Under an agreement with the Government dating from 2005, Danish electricity, gas and district heating utilities as well as suppliers of heating oil are obliged to promote energy savings among their customers. In 2007 their combined efforts saved 3.4 PJ of energy, or 15 % more than the target set. Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard is happy that the utilities. "after a slow start", are now on track and says that the goal for the future must be not just to stabilise but actually to reduce the country's energy consumption.
Read more (Danish)
Controversial smelter gets go-ahead in Iceland
An appeal against the permit granted for a new aluminium smelter at Helguvík in south-western Iceland on the grounds that the environmental impact assessment was insufficient has failed. Commenting on the outcome, Minister for the Environment Thórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir said that though the law had been followed, she was not happy about it. Her Social Democratic party and their coalition partners, the Indepedence party, disagree on the issue of whether to develop more energy-intensive industries. Environmental NGO Landvernd has vowed to go on fighting the smelter.
Climate moves up Norwegian business agenda
According to a survey of 500 Norwegian companies, well over half now regard climate change as either "very important" or "quite important" in their decision-making. The survey, carried out think tank "Mandag morgen" and the Ministry of Environment, also shows that over 80 % of the companies polled think that the Nordic countries should be at the forefront of political action on the issue. However, only 18 % of the companies, and under half of those with over 500 employees, have so far adopted a climate strategy wnd targets of their own.
Read more (Norwegian) [07.04.08]
DONG to launch campaign for electric cars
DONG Energy, the largest energy company in Denmark, is to launch a major campaign to promote electric vehicles in co-operation with makers Renault and Nissan, as well as the Califonian "Better Place" project. DONG and partners hope to make electric cars available at a cost of less than DKK 100.000 (€ 13.000) by 2010, and use surplus wind power at nighttime to charge them. At this price DONG reportedly hopes that one in five Danish car buyers will opt for a battery-driven model.
Trollhattan named most climate friendly in Sweden
The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SNF) has just published a ranking of the country's municipalities accoording to the strength of their efforts to protect the climate. The cities of Trollhättan (pop. 50.000) tops the ranking, followed by two smaller towns. Lidköping and Olofström. The ranking is based on a survey to which 209 of the country's 290 municipalities responded. 57 % of them had adopted specific targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Trollhättan, well known for its biogas-fuelled buses and cars, got particularly high marks in the field of transport.
Read more (Swedish)
IEA criticises Finnish peat subsidies
In a report Finnish energy policies, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has criticised the country's subsidies for peat-fired power plants. IEA Director Nobiu Tanaka says that Finland should see to it that these subsidies are temporary, and make greater efforts to develop bioenergy. Rsponding, Finland's Minister of Economic Affairs, Mauri Pekkarinen, repeated the country's official stance, viz. that peat should be classified as a slowly renewable resource rather than a fossil fuel.
Read more [28.03.08]
EU "should start planning 30 % emissions cut now"
Swedish Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren says that the EU should draw up substantive plans to show how it could cut GHG emissions by 30 % within 2020. So far the EU has only committed itself to a reduction of 20 %, and made a possible 30 % target dependent on other countries' commitments. However, Carlgren's view is that by having plans for deeper cuts ready, the EU would strengthen its leadership role and negotiating position ahead of the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit.
Read more (Swedish)
Faltering start for gas power in Norway
Norway's first gas-fired power plant, at Kårstø south of Bergen, has been shut down for an indefinite period after producing at capacity for only two out of eleven weeks since it opened in December. At today's gas and electricity prices, operating it is simply not profitable. A second gas-fired plant at Mongstad is due to open in 2009, while a third, at Skogn in central Norway, received the authorities' go-ahead eight years ago but has not been built, as it would be unprofitable without major subsidies. Yet another proposal for a gas-fired plant, at Elnesvågen on the west coast, has just been denied by the Norwegian Energy Directorate, which cited uncertain profitability alongside environmental grounds.
(Photo: Ingarth Skjærstad/Naturkraft)
Read more (Norwegian)
Climate Commission appointed in Denmark
Danish Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard has announced the appointment of a 10-member expert commission on climate policy. The commission is to present proposals on how Denmark's GHG emissions can be reduced by 60-80 % with 2050 - i.e. a similar brief to that given to the Norwegian Commission on Low Emissions, which reported in late 2006. The Danish commission will be headed by Professor Katherine Richardson of the University of Copenhagen and is expected to report in 2010.
Read more (Danish)
Swedish "eco-car" subsidy costlier than expected
The subsidy of SEK 10.000 (€ 1050) for buyers of zero or low emission vehicles that was introduced by the Swedish Government on 1 April last year, has become a runaway success, perhaps unless you ask the Ministry of Finance. While SEK 250 million was set aside for the scheme over three years, sales of "eco-cars" are soaring to the extent that the real cost may top SEK 1.4 billion this year. 45.000 of the vehicles were sold in the nine months the scheme was operative in 2007, and dealers expect to sell another 100.000 in 2008.
Wind power sets new record in Denmark
Wind turbines generated a record 7.2 TWh of electricity in Denmark in 2007. At the same time, total electricity production dropped by 14 % from the very high level of 2006, when Denmark had large net exports due to lower than normal hydropower production in Norway and Sweden. Wind power thus rose to over 18 % of the 39.2 TWh generated in 2007. Net Danish electricity consumption was virtually unchanged at 36.4 TWh.
Read more (Danish)
Enova sets new record in Norway
Enova, the State company that administers Norwegian government support for energy conservation and new renewable energies, has announced that 2.4 annual TWh of energy was either saved or made available from new renewable sources through projects its supported in 2007. This was the best result in Enovas seven operating years, bringing the total achieved over the period to 10.1 annual TWh. Most of the projects in 2007 involved either energy conservation or bioenergy. Only one new wind farm got past the planning stage.
Read more (Norwegian) [01.03.08]
38 % renewables target "hard to meet" for Finnish cities
According to a survey of the 15 largest cities in Finland, only three of them think that they will be able to achieve a 38 % renewable energy share and cut GHG emissions by 16 % within 2020. Although these targets are binding only on Finland as a country, they could be hard to attain if most of the big cities fall short. Some of them are apparently hoping for an easy solution - namely getting the EU to redefine peat, which is widely used in district heating and CHP plants in Finland, as a renewable rather than a fossil resource.
Read more [01.03.07]
Danish parties agree on energy plan
The Danish Governmant has announced an agreement with all the major Opposition parties on a plan to increase the renewble share of the country's energy supply to 20 % within three years, as a step on the way to achieving 30 % by 2020. The plan includes building 400 MW of new wind power capacity at sea, as well as increased subsidies for land-based wind power and a swathe of tax exemptions, RD & D efforts and support schemes to promote other renewables and energy efficiency. The extra expenses will reach 1.7 billion DKK annually by 2011 and 2.5 billion DKK (€ 330 million) by 2012.
Read more (Danish)
Carlgren welcomes proposals for deeper cuts in emissions
On 18 February, a Commision on climate policy appointed by the Swedish Government last year delivered its report to Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren. The report recommends a large package of measures, including higher fuel taxes, targeted investments in cutting-edge tecnologies and in infrastrucure such as railways, and that Sweden should press for significant reductions in the EU ceiling on CO2 allowances beyond 2012. Although it refrains from explicitly proposing a new target for GHG emissions by 2020, its sums suggest that the proposed measures would add up to a reduction of 38 % from 1990 levels. Quoting this figure, Mr. Carlgren said he expected to present a White Paper "in line with the Commision's recommendations" later this year.
Read more (Swedish)
Solheim welcomes network for climate neutrality
Speaking in Monaco, Norwegian Minister for the Environment Erik Solheim has welcomed the establishment of a global network of nations, cities and organisastions that aim to become "climate neutral", i.e. either to eliminate or to offset thier GHG emissions. His Government recently announced its intention of doing so by 2030. So far, however, the member states of the network hardly make up a list of the world's great powers. Along with Norway, Costa Rica, Iceland, Monaco and New Zealand have joined up.
Read more (Norwegian)
"One ton less" campaign claims some success in Denmark
According to a recent poll, one-half of all Danes have heard of the "One ton less" campaign launched last year by the country's Energy Agency, which aims to get each of them to reduce their GHG emissions by that amount. One in six claimed actually to have reduced their emissions as a result, and 82 % to be willing to do so. However, only 22.000 have so far actually undertaken to cut their emissions by as much as one ton.
Read more (Danish) - Campaign website
Finnish power companies eye protected rivers anew
The Finnish Energy Industries' Association has newly suggested that hydro-electricity could play an important part in meeting Finland's target of increasing its renewable energy share from 28 % to 38 % by 2020. Although the available resources are limited - the Association suggests that they might "realistically" contribute a further 1.3 TWh per year - it claims that using hydropower to regulate supply fluctuations would also permit more wind power development. The problem is that the rivers in question are mostly protected by law. Responding to a question in Parliament, Environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen has denied any intention of changing their status.
Read more (Swedish) [15.02.07]
Icelandic glaciers retreating at record rates
Icelanders may not be thinking of a new name for the country just yet, but according to the National Energy Authority, its glaciers are now retreating at the fastest rate so far recorded - up to 100 metres per year. Ground is being exposed that has not seen daylight since before the onset of the Little Ice Age in the 16th century. All but one of the country's glaciers retreated last year.
Maersk Line emits as much CO2 as all of Denmark
Previous calculations by Statitsics Denmark (story of 14 December) showing that Denmarks's GHG emissions would grow by just under 50 % if international shipping were included, appear to be short of the mark. Internal calculations by the Danish AP Møller - Maersk group, the world's largest container shipper, show that its fleet alone emits at least as much CO2 as all of Denmark. Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard has confirmed her intention of seeking a global emissions regime that will cover shipping, but is waiting to see if the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) can come up with a proposal of its own before the end of 2008.
Energy R & D in Norway "should be doubled"
A strategy group, "Energi 21", which was set up last year to advise the Government on future directions for energy R&D in Norway, has delivered its report to Minister of Petroleum and Energy Åslag Haga. The group recommends doubling Government spending in the field to NOK 400 million (€ 50 mn) annually within two years, and hopes that the private sector will eventually pitch in six times as much. Research should be concentrated in five areas including energy efficiency, renewable electricity sources such as offshore wind and carbon-neutral heating systems. Ms Haga thanked the group for "good advice" and immediately announced that she wants it to continue on a permanent basis.
"Energi 21" website (limited information in English) - "Teknisk ukeblad" article (Norwegian only) [08.02.08]
Sweden, Norway to co-operate with Asian giants
During a visit to New Delhi, Swedish Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren has announced that his country will open an energy and environment office in the Indian capital, to facilitate contacts between Swedish companies and Indian counterparts. State-level co-operation on environmental technology is also to be stepped up. Only a week previously, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre signed an agreement in Beijing under which China and Norway will strengthen co-operation on climate change issues, including renewable energy and carbon capture and storage.
Swedish press release - Norwegian press release
Danes still firmly against nuclear energy
The argument that nuclear power might be necessary to combat climate change has evidently not found fertile soil in Denmark. A poll for the Politiken newspaper shows that only 16 % of Danes support the deployment of nuclear power in the country. Danish authorities shelved their nuclear plans in the 1980's, and Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard commented that the pollwas a stamp of approval on official policy, which is to promote renewable energy instead.
EU proposes national targets for emissions and renewables
On 23 January the EU Commission presented its proposals for burden-sharing among member countries to achieve its overall goals of a 20 % cut in GHG emissions and a 20 % renewable share in energy supplies by 2020. Although the Nordic member countries have already achieved the latter goal or almost so, they would also be required to do better - increasing the renewable share from some 18 % up to 30 % in Denmark, 28 % to 38 % in Finland and 40 % to 49 % in Sweden. Denmark and Sweden are both among the three countries that would be required to make the deepest percentage cuts in GHG emissions.
Reactions: Finland (English) - Sweden (English) - Denmark (Danish)
Newspaper lifts lid on Danish GHG scenarios
In an article on 24 January, the Information newspaper accused Danish authorities of keeping secret two reports by independent consultants that describe how the country could reduce its GHG emission by up to 40 % within 2020 and 50 % within 2050. The Danish Energy Agency has responded by offering a lengthy explanation of why the reports (dated May and December 2007) were not yet ripe for publication, but decided to publish them at once nevertheless, in order to "dispel any myths". The explantion is in Danish only, but both reports are available in English from the same webpage.
Private saunas devour energy in Finland
One of Finland's national icons, the sauna, has also become a major consumer of electricity, reports the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper. The country now has some two million saunas, of which 1.3 million are electric saunas in private houses. They add a full € 145 million annually to Finnish power bills. As an alternative, the paper suggests a return to the traditional wood-fired communal saunas - as offered by a sauna club in Helsinki which has so far attracted 3,700 members.
Read more (Swedish) - (Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net) [25.01.08]
Emissions from Norwegian gas plant surge
A new LNG plant at Melkøya in northern Norway has been dogged by problems since it started up last autumn, resulting in much larger CO2 emissions than originally envisaged. The plant, owned by StatoilHydro, has already had its emissions permit for flaring gas increased once, from 15.000 to 200.000 tons per year, and has now applied for a further increase to 1.5 million tons in 2008 - almost 3 % of Norway's total emissions. This will come on top of 920.000 tons of emissions from regular operation of Melkøya's power plant. In addition, the plant will emit up to 2,200 tons of soot in 2008, which will contribute to the melting of Arctic ice. The owners still expect emissions to drop sharply beyond 2008, when the teething problems have been resolved.
Read more - (Photo: Allan Klo, StatoilHydro) [25.01.08]
"Finland 15 years behind on renewables"
The Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs, Mr. Mauri Pekkarinen, says that his country is "10 to 15 years behind schedule" in the field of renewable energy. A draft EU proposal would require the country to increase the renewable share of its energy mix by one-third. To achieve this, new measures to promote renewables as well as energy conservation will be needed, says Pekkarinen.
Read more [18.01.08]
Norwegian parties reach deal on climate policy
After long drawn-out negotiations, the Norwegian Government has reached an agreement with three of the four parliamentary Opposition parties on climate policy. The agreement specifies a long list of budgetary and regulatory measures to promote new renewable energy sources, conservation and more environmentally friendly modes of transport, but only a very small increase in fuel taxes. Some Opposition proposals, such as a support scheme for municipal climate projects similar to the Swedish KLIMP, did not make it into the agreement. However, the Government's target year of 2050 for making Norway "carbon neutral" was advanced to 2030. The right-wing Progress Party, which remains sceptical about the reality of climate change, was not invited to the talks.
Read more (English) - Text of the agreement (Norwegian) [18.01.08]
Hydrogen buses for Copenhagen?
Delegates to the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference may be able to travel between venues leaving nothing but a trail of water vapour. Representatives of several parties, including the Conservatives who form part of the Government, are supporting the introduction of hydrogen buses, which could run on fuel produced with Danish wind power. Putting 50 such buses on the road by next year would cost an estimated DKK 60 million (€ 8 mn).
Swedes, Danes see new export opportunities
Growing interest in biogas, waste-for-energy plants and ethanol in the USA could provide Sweden with major new export opportunities, according to a series of reports just published by the Swedish Export Council, the Swedish Energy Agency and the business association Swentec. Swedish companies have gained a lot of experience with these technologies while they have languished for lack of support in the US. Meanwhile, a new Danish study suggests that that country, already the world's leading exporter of wind turbines, also has a big potential to increase exports of equipment for energy conservation.
Swedish Energy Agency (article in Swedish, reports in English) - Copenhagen Post article (English)
Helsinki still to run on coal
The municipal utility Helsinki Energy, which provides the Finnish capital with much of its power and district heat from the coal-fired Hanasaari plant, appears less than eager to switch fuels. Finnish PM Vanhanen has spoken in favour of using wood fuel instead, but according to the utility this would require it to consume all the avialable wood chips from within a 250 km radius of the capital.
Read more [11.01.08] Update 18.01.08: City Council requires 20 % renewable share by 2020
Denmark to develop CO2 reduction strategy for transport sector
Speaking after a Government-appointed committee on transport infrastructure delivered its report, Danish Minister of Transport Carina Christensen promised that the resulting investment plan would be coupled with a strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from the transport sector. She was seconded by Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard, who said that "massive" investments in public transport were now "desperately important". While Denmark has succeeded in reducing emissions from other sectors, CO2 emissions from transport have so far pointed unrelentingly upward.
Remarks by Ministers Christensen and Hedegaard (Danish)
Scandinavians rate Sweden the greenest
A poll among Danes, Norwegians and Swedes shows that Sweden, across 3000 respondents from the three countries, has by far the best environmental image. Norway came in a poor second and Denmark last. The poll was commissioned by the Norwegian daily Dagsavisen, which also asked leading Norwegian and Swedish environmentalists for comments. The leader of the Norwegian Society for Nature Conservation was less surprised by Sweden's victory than the fact that Norway beat Denmark, while his Swedish counterpart commented that Norway was "sleeping on a pillow of oil" while Sweden was actually reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. No Danes were quoted.
Norwegian moon landing? Er, not just yet...
In his 2007 New Year's speech to the nation, PM Jens Stoltenberg (photo) compared the country's effort to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) at gas-fired power plants to the US Apollo space programme of the 1960s. Just ahead of another new year, the "moon landing" he prophesied has receded a bit further into the future. While the Mongstad power plant, due to come on stream in 2009, will include a prototype installation to capture some 8 % of its emissions, these will not be stored but emitted along with the rest of the CO2 from the plant. Storage will have to wait until a full-scale CCS plant is installed, hopefully in 2014. The Government claims storage at this stage would cost too much, while Oppostion parties accuse it of reneging on its promises.
Read more [21.12.07]
"Stony road to 2009" - Hedegaard
Summing up the results of the Bali climate conference, Danish Minister of Climate and Energy Connie Hedegaard sees "a stony road ahead" to the Copenhagen climate summit of 2009. Denmark and the EU would have preferred the Bali conference to have set real targets for greenhouse gas reductions by 2020, but "considering the critical phase the negotiations went through" must nevertheless be satisfied that a roadmap was adopted. Albeit some of the stones on that road "are pretty large".
"Copenhagen Post" article (English) - Ministry's official version (Danish)
Swedish GHG emissions go on down
According to figures just released by the Swedish EPA, Sweden's greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 were 1.7 % lower than the year before, and 8.7 % below the 1990 level. The country, which is already near the bottom of the OECD league for per capita emissions, thus seems set to exceed its own target of a 4 % reduction by 2008-2012. Not just emissions from stationary combustion, but also those from domestic aviation and navigation dropped in 2006, while those from road traffic rose just marginally.
Read more (Swedish)
Denmark dirtier than its reputation?
According to a report by Statistics Denmark, the country would be among the world's top 10 per capita emitters of greenhouse gases if emissions from international shipping and aircraft were included in official figures. It would also be impossible to claim that emissions had been decoupled from economic growth. This is especially down to the country's large and growing merchant fleet. The Information newspapaper claims the truth is even worse, since the Danish-owned fleet is actually much larger than Statistics Denmarks's figure. Norway's emissions would also shoot up if its ships were counted, but the trend would be different, as the Norwegian-owned fleet has shrunk somewhat since 2000.
Read more - "Information" article (Danish) - (Photo: Freefoto.com)
Norway pledges billions for rainforest
On the occasion of the Bali climate conference, the Norwegian Government has announced that it will make NOK 3 billion (€ 380 mn) annually available for preservation of tropical rainforests. Mr. Lars Haltbrekken, the leader of FoE Norway which has campaigned for such a move, called the decision "fantastic". The opposition Conservative and Liberal parties, which have presented the Government with a 61-point wishlist for a more ambitious climate policy, promised to fight for the full amount of funding actually to start next year.
Read more - (Photo: Talamanca Open Photography Project) [14.12.07]
Sweden tops global climate protection ranking
According to a ranking just published by the German NGO Germanwatch, Sweden is the most climate-friendly of the 56 countries in the world with the largest absolute GHG emissions. Iceland comes third, Norway 16th, Denmark 17th and Finland a rather poor 36th. The ranking is based on an index combining current per capita emissions, trends since 1990 and an assessment of climate policy. Germanwatch points out that the first component favours countries with large renewable energy resources in relation to population. This is especially true of Iceland and Norway, and to a slightly lesser degree of Sweden.
Norway to reopen talks with Sweden on green certificate scheme
The Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Åslag Haga, has announced that she will reopen negotiations with Sweden on a common market for so-called "green certificates" for electricity from new renewable sources. Utilities in Sweden are obliged to buy certificates for a certain share of the power they sell. Norway withdrew from a previous round of talks in 2005-2006 and opted instead to introduce its own subsidies for green electricity. However, this has been no success, since Norwegian companies claim the subsidies are too small.
Read more (Norwegian) [07.12.07]
Finnish railways to go greener
The Finnish State Railways (VR) have announced plans to halve their CO2 emissions and cut their energy consumption by 20 % within 2012. The emissions reduction will be achieved partly by buying "green" electricity. Earlier this year, Danish State Railways announced that they would start running all their electric trains on renewable power.
Read more [07.12.07]
More wind power recommended for Sweden
In a report to the Government, the Swedish Energy Agency has recommended that its planning goal for wind power generation should be raised to 30 annual terawatt hours by 2020 - 20 times more than today. The Agency proposes that 2/3 of this capacity should be provided by onshore and 1/3 by offshore wind farms. The latter would have to be subsidised, while the formercould be secured simply by increasing the share of electricity that utilities are required to obtain from "green" sources.
Read more (Swedish)
Icelandic coalition partners disagree on climate policy
The Icelandic Minister for the Environment, Ms. Thórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir (photo), says that Iceland should not seek exemptions from the rules regarding emissions reductions that will apply to other countries in the post-Kyoto period. The Minister, who represents the Social Democratic Party, is thus publicly at odds with PM Geir Haarde of the Independence Party (story of 10 November). According to Sveinbjarnardóttir, "Iceland has a responsibility as one of the richest countries in the world to be a good role model on environment issues".
Read more [30.11.07] - Update 07.12.07: Government agrees on 20 % reduction target by 2020
Danes take to wood pellets
Consumption of wood pellets in Denmark continues to grow and reached 900.000 tons in 2006, despite a drop in consumption by CHP plants due to higher prices. Private households (white in graph, left) are now leading the demand for pellets, which covered 6 % of household energy use in 2006 - the highest share in any Nordic country. Consumption of pellets by all sectors in Sweden, at almost 1.7 million tons, was on a par with Denmark in per capita terms, while it was far lower in Finland (100.000 tons) and Norway (30.000 tons).
Read more (Danish)
"Slash emissions by 40 % by 2020"
The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), the largest environmental NGO in the country, claims that Swedish GHG emissions must be cut by 40 % from 1990 levels within 2020. SSNC has just published a set of proposals to achieve this goal. They include increasing the CO2 tax on vehicle fuels by some 3 Eurocents per litre every year, on top of an immediate and hefty increase in the energy tax on diesel oil, and cutting emissions permits for industry at 60 % of 1990 emissions by the 2018-2022 period. According to SSNC, Swedish authorities have so far pussyfooted on emissions permits due to exaggerated estimates of "business-as-usual" emissions.
Read more (Swedish)
Climate attachés to prepare ground for 2009
The newly appointed Danish Minister of Climate and Energy, Connie Hedegaard, has announced that five special envoys will be attached to Danish embassies in countries whose participation will be crucial for a successful post-Kyoto climate treaty. Washington, Beijing and New Delhi are among the likely postings. Ms. Hedegaard says this will provide her with the "clearest possible lines of communication" in the run-up to the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference.
Local climate planning gathers steam in Norway
According to a survey by Enova - the state enterprise charged with promoting renewables and energy efficiency - 67 out of 431 Norwegian municipalities have local climate and energy plans in place, while at least 81 have started the process. To help more of them on the way, Enova plans to run 50 training sessions for municipalities over the coming months. The first of them was opened by Energy Minister Åslaug Haga on 22 November and attracted 80 participants.
Read more (Norwegian) [24.11.07]
Hedegaard named Minister of Climate and Energy
Responsibilities for energy and environment issues in the Danish Government have been reshuffled following its recent election victory. Former Minister for the Environment Connie Hedegaard (Conservative, pictured) has been named Minister of Climate and Energy, therby retaining responsibilty for the climate issues formerly managed by her old Ministry and taking over energy matters fofrom the former Ministry of Transport and Energy. The new Minister for the Environment is Mr. Troels Lund Poulsen (Liberal).
Read more (Danish)
Energy use steady in Sweden
According to figures just released by the Swedish Energy Agency, primary energy consumption in Sweden dropped by 2 % in 2006, to 625 TWh compared with 639 TWh in 2005. However, this was mainly due to the replacement of some nuclear generation with imported electricity, and a consequent drop in losses associated with nuclear generation. Final consumption was largely unchanged and came in at the same level as in 1996. Consumption in industry and transport has grown over the past decade, while residential and commercial consumption have fallen.
Download report: "Energy in Sweden - Facts and Figures 2007"
Norwegian bioenergy goal "ambitious but realistic"
According to a study by the Eastern Norway Research Institute, the Government's goal of doubling bioenergy use from 14 to 28 TWh annually by 2020 is feasible with respect to physical markets and resource avialability. However, it will problably not happen unless the price of CO2 emissions rises to 500 NOK (€ 63) per ton. Minister of Petroleum and Energy interprets this positively: "the study shows that the target is ambitious, but realistic".
Read more (Norwegian) [17.11.07]
Danish Government returned in elections
The Liberal-Conservative coalition in Denmark, led by PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen (photo) is set to continue in office following a snap election om 13 November. Although the two governing parties and the Danish People's Party, which has supported the Government since 2001, only received 89 seats - one short of a majority - they can count on the support of one MP from the Faroe Islands as well as the five MPs of the New Alliance Party.
Full election results
Climate awareness high and rising in Sweden
According to a poll commissioned by the Swedish EPA, 97 % of Swedes now believe that the country already is or will be affected by climate change. 76 % think it "very important" to act on the issue and 81 % think they themselves can do something, compared to 69 % and 73 % respectively one year ago. 84 % claim to be "definitely willing" to buy more efficient appliances, 58 % to lower indoor temperatures and 53 % to drive less.
Read more (Swedish)
2/3 of Danes want fewer cars on the road
According to a recent poll, 96 percent of Danes believe that CO2 emissions from car traffic need to be reduced, and 65 percent think that there ought to be fewer cars on the road. This includes 57 percent of motorists. The poll was taken among 1137 people living on the island of Zealand, which includes the capital region and has about half of Denmark's population.
Read more (Danish)
Haarde wants special treatment to continue post Kyoto
The Icelandic Prime Minister, Mr. Geir Haarde of the conservative Independence Party, has told Parliament that Iceland should try to achieve special exemptions from post-Kyoto greenhouse gas limits, as it has under the Kyoto protocol. This would allow Iceland, in recognition of its largely clean energy supplies, to establish more GHG-intensive industries. Mr. Haarde's remarks were welcomed by representatives of the Liberal and Progressive parties and predictably criticised by the Left Greens, while the position of the PM's coalition partner, the Social Democrats, is unclear.
No loopholes for Norwegian industry
The new Norwegian Minister of Energy, Ms. Åslaug Haga, met a cold shoulder at the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) during a recent visit to Brussels. Like all of her predecessors over the past five years, Ms. Haga has been looking for ways of circumventing EU and EEA rules on competition in order to continue supplying energy-intensive industries in Norway with power at less than market prices when their current politically fixed contracts expire in the years up to 2011. ESA President Per Sanderud held out little hope that the rules could be tweaked, and Haga was forced to conclude that "it wouldn't be easy".
Sweden to co-operate with China on renewable energy
During a visit to China by Swedish Minister of Enterprise and Energy Maud Olofsson, the two countries have signed an agreement on co-operation in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Ms Olofsson pointed out that Sweden had demonstrated that economic growth could be achieved while reducing GHG emissions, and hopes that the agreement will be of benefit to both countries.
Press release (Swedish)
Danish Govt. accused of doctoring climate reports
According to the Politiken newspaper, quoting several leading scientists, the Danish Government repeatedly edited scientific reports and recommendations to downplay the threat of human-induced climate change. The allegations relate to the present centre-right Governments's first term in office (2001-2004). Much of the editing apparently took place in the Finance Ministry, but former Minister for the Environment Hans Christian Schmidt is also alleged to have personally edited some texts.
Finland to stagger car taxes by CO2 emissions
The Finnish Government has announced plans to make taxes on new cars dependent on their CO2 emissions. This follows similar moves in Norway and Denmark. Under the proposed Finnish scheme, to take effect at the beginning of next year, taxes on new cars would vary from 10 to 40 percent of their purchase price, making a difference of several thousand Euros in some cases.
Read more [03.11.07]
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