Conservatives launch green revolution

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Norway’s Conservative Party, eager to win back voter support after a series of political missteps in recent months, claimed it was launching a green revolution as members gathered for their national meeting on Friday. Prime Minister Erna Solberg bashed the former left-center government’s environmental track record and rolled out a series of measures aimed at cutting carbon emissions.

Norway has high emissions per capita because of its oil and gas industry coupled with a small population. Solberg claimed, however, that Norway would follow the EU Commission’s goals for cuts in emissions. Use of oil for heating will be prohibited in all buildings by 2020. All state vehicles will be replaced by those with either low- or zero-emissions. All diesel trains will be replaced with trains that use environmentally friendly fuel.

And the list goes on. “Today we stand before a green revolution at the party’s national meeting,” claimed the Conservatives’ minister or the environement, Tine Sundtoft. She earlier has declared that Norway will meet demands made in the latest UN Climate Report, and will cut emissions in its oil and gas industry as well.

‘Very ambitious’
Both the leader of the Conservatives’ youth group, Paul Joakim Sandøy, and Nikolai Astrup, the party’s environmental spokesperson in the parliament, were relieved and satisfied with the new climate policies approved at the meeting. “I think it’s a very ambitious resolution,” Sandøy told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I have always fought for Conservatives to have a clear environmental profile. We’ve had that for awhile, but now we’ve strengthened it.”

Other parties that have prided themselves on having a strong profile were more skeptical. “These are good intentions,” said Ola Elvestuen, deputy leader of the Liberal Party. “But many of the proposal still need to be made more concrete. This isn’t enough to reach climate goals.” A spokeswoman for Labour didn’t appreciate how the Conservatives poked fun at the last Labour government’s failure to meet its goals.

‘Green shift’
Kari Elisabeth Kaski of the environmental foundation Zero hailed Solberg’s speech while other organizations said she failed to tackle the most important questions of how to reduce oil and gas industry emissions.

“We see a green shift in the Conservatives,” Kaski said. “The big test will come in the energy sector, though. There has to be a clear signal to Statoil that full electrification of its oil fields is the only way to go.”

Solberg didn’t mention either the oil industry or electrification of, for example, the new Utsira fields in her speech.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund