EU forces Norway to cut emissions

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Norwegian authorities have admitted for the first time that they won’t cut nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions as much as they’re supposed to under a UN agreement. Now the EU can force Norway to do so.

The Norwegian environmental authorities have been accused of dragging their feet on meeting their UN obligations to help reduce air pollution. Newspaper Aftenposten reported Monday that Norway won’t meet its emission reduction goals until 2012.

Most of Norway’s NOx emissions are generated by its large fishing fleet and maritime industry, especially the ferries and ships operating along Norway’s coast.

Norway did impose a new NOx tax in 2007 and last year set up a fund, into which private business pays, that aims to finance emissions reduction measures. Not much was done before that, however, and current Environmental Minister Erik Solheim has some catching up to do.

He contends Norway is addressing the issue now, not least because the EU is insisting on it through a directive that sets national limits on emissions and air pollution. The directive is being included in the special agreement Norway, which is not a member of the EU, has that gives it access to the EU market.

While failing to meet the UN goals had no consequence for Norway, the EU can force the issue. Solheim says Norway will go along, adding that the EU has played a “formidable” role in reducing air pollution in Europe and the world.