Climate conference disappointed most

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The Norwegian government announced “agreement after long negotiations at the climate summit in Madrid,” but only over how participating countries must “sharpen their ambitions next year.” Otherwise, the UN-backed summit ended amidst disappointment that there was no agreement regarding more detailed regulations  on climate quota trade.

Norway’s climate minister, Ola Elvestuen, and youth delegate Sofie Nordvik had to admit defeat when the summit ended. PHOTO: KMD

The two-week-long summit finally ended in overtime Sunday when participants could only agree to disagree. Norwegian Climate Minister Ola Elvestuen tried to put a positive spin on it all, claiming that “it’s good we put into place a clear measure that asks the countries to sharpen their climate goals in the year to come.” He had to admit that “now it’s all about following up on that.”

And that’s the big problem, with climate advocates complaining that there once again was lots of talk but very little action. Norway was accused of leading the pack on that, speaking glowingly about its own plans to cut emissions by 55 percent  by 2030 along with the EU. Elvestuen had to admit, however, that none of Norway’s 11 most recent climate ministers have ever met emission goals. As long as Norway keeps exploring for oil and producing it, Norway is unlikely to meet its 2030 goals either.

Quota credit quarrel
Now nations like Norwau disagree over who should get credit for emission cuts when a wealthy industrialized country like itself simply pays other countries to cut their emissions. Norway wants credit for cuts made elsewhere, while the countries making the cuts want credit, too.

Elvestuen’s ministry admitted that this year’s climate summit in Madrid was plagued by “difficult negotiations” and many unanswered questions remaining until Sunday afternoon. He was responsible for consultations with a ministerial colleague from the island nation of Grenada about who should pay to repair and/or prevent climate damage like that from flooding or severe storms.

“We need measures to support those most vulnerable for the most dramatic consequences of global warming,” Elvestuen said. “That costs money.” Some of that resulted in a measure to further the issue, while negotiations for market cooperation ended without a solution. It was thus postponed until the next climate summit in Glasgow in 2020.

Not even close to any meaningful agreement
Elvestuen had to admit that the Madrid summit ended without participating nations even coming close to agreeing on measures that would keep global warming at 1.5 degrees or less. “We are still in a climate crisis,” he conceded, “and the measures at this summit don’t provide answers for the radical restructuring the world’s countries must undertake.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg was among those expressing disappointment after marathon negotiations at the summit ended with no breakthrough. “We did make some progress but it’s going too slowly,” Solberg told TV2 late Sunday.

Many were disappointed in her and Norway itself, however, because the country continues to drill for and produce oil and gas that’s contributed to the climate crisis over the years. Just as delegates headed into final negotiations late last week came word that Norway’s oil and gas industry trade association was celebrating still-bright prospects for exploration and production next year. While economists have warned that it will later decline, Norsk Olje og Gass is pumping up support for the industry as never before.

Oil and gas ‘good for Norway’
“It’s good for the entire Norwegian society, and provides a foundation for jobs and future income,” the association’s chief, Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen, told newspaper Klassekampen. He’s a veteran Labour Party official who served as chief of staff for former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who now heads NATO. Schjøtt-Pedersen prefers to claim that the world will still need oil and gas for many years to come, and it’s best if Norway continues to produce it.

Norway’s Green Party, meanwhile, wants Solberg to declare a climate crisis, while Greenpeace’s international leader Jennifer Morgan claims Norway’s credibility will stand or fall over whether Norway at least stops exploration in the Arctic.

Solberg disagrees. “I know that Greenpeace doesn’t want us to produce oil,” Solberg told state broadcaster NRK as the summit ended. “But Norway will produce oil moving forward.” There’s still great demand for it, she maintains, even as Norway is doing the most to put the brakes on demand itself through punitively high fuel taxes, road toll and providing tax incentives for electrification.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund