N O R W A Y
news on governance for sustainable development
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)
"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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.
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 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]
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.
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]
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)
Enova sets new record
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]
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)
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. Reseach 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]
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]
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 be unreasonably expensive, while Oppostion parties accuse it of reneging on its promises.
Read more [21.12.07]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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".
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
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)
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)
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 i Norway until July of next year.
Read more (Norwegian) [07.09.07]
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]
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]
Norway loses case over reversion of hydro plants
The EFTA Court, which has the last word in disputes relating to the implementation of rules relating 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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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 leaders of 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) [14.04.07]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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 indefintely, 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.
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.
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 Brænde (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) [05.01.07]
Climate awareness campaign launched
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.
More on climate and energy | Press release (Norwegian) [13.06.06]
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).
More on local policy | Home of the new programme (Norwegian) [29.5.06]
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.
More on energy policy | Press release (Norwegian) [03.04.06]
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. Minister of oil and energy, Odd Roger Enoksen, states the decicion to end negotiations was made because the proposed system would have become "too expencive for Norwegian business and consumers". As a consequence of the decision, planned investments in wind power on a scale of 1,25 bill Euro may be put on hold. Energy suppliers have regarded a green certificate system a prerequisite for the large scale develoment of wind power that is planned along the coast of Norway. The companies argue that a market for green certificates, that give a higher price for green electricity, is the only effort that can give them prices to defend investments in wind turbines. When the introduction of a scheme of green certificates is now abandoned it jeopardises the whole development of wind power in Norway, the energy companies say. If all the proposed wind projects were developed, they would generate more than 4 TWh along the coast of the region Trøndelag alone. This is enough to cover half the projected need for power in the region. More on energy policy | Read press release [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 drilling for oil in the vulnerable Barents sea and Lofoten region. - We are definetely worried. We know that areas in the Arctic region are extremely vulnerable and that the environment changes very quickly Marion Cheatle, who is responsible for the report, says
to Dagsavisen. She continues that oil- and gas activity in the high North amounts to gambling, no matter the security efforts made.
The UNEP report was published on the same day that a proposed White Paper on oil- and gas activity in the North leaked from the new red-green coalition government. The absence of concepts like "petroleum-free sones" and "permanent protection" has led to harsh critisism from environmental NGOs. Particularly the Socialist Left Party is critisised for selling out on environmental issues within the government coalition, given the party's strong environmental reputation in opposition. The minister of environment, Helen Bjørnøy, states that the plan has not yet been treated politically, yielding it too early to complain about it. [08.01.06]
The SFT 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 SFTs proposition is accepted by the Ministry of Environment, Norway's landfill policy thereby will become the strictest in Europe.
The ban is due to take effect in 2009 and will mean the recovery of over 600,000 tonnes
of biodegradable waste annually, mostly as energy through incineration. From July 2009,
all waste dumps must also comply to a set of additional rules for waste handling. Together,
these changes mean that emissions from the waste sector will not increase, and over time
will become considerably less. Still, it will take some years before emissions are substantially
reduced, as methane emissions go on for a long time after the waste is dumped. Methane emitted by waste landfills accounts for 4% of Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions.[08.01.06]
Reductions of emissions in the oil sector
The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT)
reports Norway's offshore petroleum industry seems likely to meet its target of zero emissions
of hazardous chemicals by the end of 2005. But the report added that efforts to reduce discharges
of oil and produced water by the same deadline were lagging. All targets are expected to be met by
the end of 2007, two years after the deadline. [19.12.05]
Press release (Norwegian)
The report (Norwegian)
Prizes for best reporting on the environment and CSR
Norske skog has been awarded the price for the best environmental reporting by a large norwegian company at the CSR-conferance in Oslo last week, while Storebrand won the price for best reporting on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). It is the third time Norske Skog has won the best report award in the 10-year history of the prizes. The prizes are intended to inspire enterprises in Norway to make constant improvements on their environmental and sustainibility reporting. [28.11.05]
Helen Bjørnøy is the new Norwegian Minister of the environment
This Monday Helen Bjørnøy from the Socialist Left (SV) replaced Knut Arild Hareide as Minister of the environment.
Environmental groups welcomed Ms Bjørnøy's appointment and aspects of the new coalition's environmental platform,
including investment in renewable energy and public transport, and the removal of large hydropower developments from the green
certificates scheme. The Government has earmarked NOK 3,4 billion
to the Ministry of the environment, an augmentation of NOK 672,6 million from this years budget. [19.10.05]
More about the new Government...
Conference on Sustainable Development - Measurement and Policies
The Norwegian Ministry of Finance is organising a conference on sustainable development with focus on measurement and policies in cooperation with the OECD. The conferance takes place June 20 to 21 just outside Oslo.
The conference is a good opportunity to achieve knowledge and experiences from different contries on the work for sustainable development. Most speakers are from the OECD, but both Sweden, Finland and Norway is representated with national authorities.
More... (In Norwegian)
Hareide considers a ban on mercury
Norway is to consider banning mercury in all products, Minister of Environment Knut Arild Hareide announced. His statement coincided with publication of an action plan for reducing releases of the toxic metal "in all phases, from industrial emissions to waste treatment", at national and international level. [07.04.05]
New national set of indicators of sustainable development launched
Simpler indicators are preferred by us politicians, after all, it is the results of our politics we are to be judged by, said Minister of Finance Per Kristian Foss when he recieved the proposal of the 16 national indicators of sustainable development from the Indicator Committee. As a tool for achieving sustainable development the indictators can be especially effective since the responsibility lies at the Ministry of Finance and thus will be reported through the annual national budget.
The Right to Environmental Information
The Act on the Right to Environmental Information entered into force in 2004. It provides all citizens with a legal right to obtain environmental information, both from public authorities and from public and private enterprises. Now an appeals board has been established to consider complaints related to the follow up of the Act in private enterprises. [09.02.2005]