It looks like Norwegian motorists and farmers will be forced to make the biggest cuts in carbon emissions when Norway follows through with plans to abide by the EU’s climate goals. New numbers presented by the EU Commission this week will demand emission cuts within Norway of 40 percent by 2030.
As a relatively wealthy country with a strong economy despite sharply lower oil prices, Norway will be expected to cut emissions the most. Even though Norway is not a member of the EU, the country goes along with most EU policy and regulations in order to secure access to the EU market. Now it’s poised to go along with the cuts being demanded in the transport, agriculture, disposable waste and construction sectors.
News bureau NTB reported that Norway is due to be hit with the toughest demands. “This ensures fairness, because it means the wealthiest countries take on higher goals than the poorest countries,” NTB quoted the EU’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete as saying.
Only Sweden and Luxembourg will be ordered to cut as much as Norway, with Denmark and Finland ordered to cut emissions by 39 percent.
Norway will also get the same opportunity as EU member nations to buy quotas from other countries that are part of the emission-cutting system. That means Norway can still pay other countries to cut emissions instead of making all the cuts at home.
Cuts within Norway are still expected to be significant, not least since Norway’s oil and gas industry and its increase in population have resulted in emissions growth while other countries are cutting. That’s also, however, because Norway has long relied on relatively clean hydroelectric energy and never had all the coal-driven power plants seen elsewhere in Europe. Norway thus hasn’t been able to make and boast the cuts made in other countries that have cut bak on old coal-driven operations. Norway also continues to make efforts to expand its oil and gas industry.
Norway will now need even more motorists to stop driving gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles, both in the private and commercial sectors. Norway’s government minister in charge of environmental issues, Vidar Helgesen, warns of more and higher taxes and fees tied to fossil fuels, to discourage their use. Norway has warned of banning sales of fossil-fueled vehicles from 2025, parking places are already disappearing quickly and fuel taxes are high and likely to rise.
“But changes must also be made in the heavy transport sector,” Helgesen said, and farmers will need to stop using diesel-driven tractors. “We’re positive,” one farmer, Jon Ansten Johansen in Kråkstad south of Oslo, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), “but the costs must be in line with what the sector pays off, and our economy is already under pressure.”
Johansen said he currently spends around NOK 100,000 a year on 15,000 liters of diesel needed on his farm. “I have no objections to going over to biodiesel,” he said, “but agriculture can’t be hit with costs that can’t be recovered.” Farmers are also skeptical towards measures aimed at producing less red meat and more poultry, for example, if it means consumer demand will lead to more imports from Argentina, notes the head of the farming organization Norges Bondelag.
It will all boil down to the willingness of politicians to impose tough emissions cuts, especially if they don’t curtail oil exploration and production. “It’s fully possible to reach the goal of cutting emissions within transport, agriculture and refuse by 40 percent by 2030,” says Stig Schjølset, leader of the climate- and quota-analysis firm Point Carbon Thomson Reuters. The City of Oslo is already making it increasingly difficult to drive in the Norwegian capital and discussions are well underway for carbon capture facilities at the Klemetsrud garbage and thermal power plant in Oslo. Norway also has one of the world’s highest use of electric cars, and quotas can be bought.