Norwegian emissions: Offsets elsewhere or new technology at home?

Norway is making solar panels with clean energy? Norwegians like to think of themselves as good keepers of the environment. 98-99% of Norway’s electricity comes from hydroelectric plants. It adopted a carbon tax in 1991. It was the first country to capture carbon dioxide and store it underground. The government has pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2030, only taking local emissions into account. But it is the world’s third-biggest exporter of gas and fourth-biggest exporter of oil – exports that are burned abroad: Norway is profiting handsomely at the planet’s expense!

But what will future policy be? Symbolic green goals, buying offsets or methodical fact- and research-based approach at home?

The government is promoting many forms of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The state levies a carbon tax on Norway’s dirtiest industries – oil and gas firms – with good effect. StatoilHydro has two of the world’s four big carbon-capture schemes. But growing output means increased emissions.

There is a carbon-trading scheme – EU based – giving Norwegian firms access to a large pool of spare permits, lowering the costs of compliance. The government is the biggest enthusiast in buying permits. Trees will also be planted in Norway, but big technological advances are needed.

Depending on the efficiency, buying quotas will be sufficient to offset Norwegian emissions  with a good margin. 

But for future oil and gas production somebody has to put on the brakes – if Norway doesn’t, who will?

Ordinary Norwegians should live greener lives, but so far you may do  whatever you want, including nothing!

There are inconsistencies in the government’s stance with too much symbolism. We need more analysis of costs and benefits. 

Will Norway turn itself into an environmental pioneer? Maybe we need a comprehensive plan, or will that limit the politicians playing around trying to become environmental idols of the world?


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