Norway, one of the world’s major oil producers, joined countries around the world last week in agreeing to “transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems.” The goal is to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and it would have been a scandal if Norway didn’t agree to at least that.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, who led Norway’s delegation at the recent UN climate conference in Dubai, had finally acknowledged that fossil fuels including coal, oil and gas were the proverbial “elephant in the room” at the climate summit. His Labour Party-led government in Norway has consistently claimed it wants to keep developing Norway’s oil and gas industry instead of phasing it out, but nonetheless recognizes that fossil fuels must eventually be replaced with alternative energy sources.
“This is a breakthrough,” claimed Norway’s new Climate and Environment Minister Andreas Bjelland Eriksen, “and sets a clear direction for all countries. We will move away from the fossil world and over to the renewable one.”
Environmental advocates weren’t quite as jubilant but nonetheless relieved by the long-debated working of the climate summit declaration. “Even with all its many loopholes,” WWF leader in Norway Karoline Andaur told state broadcaster NRK, “it marks a long-sought turning point in climate negotiations, but comes many years too late.”
Frode Pleym, leader of Greenpeace in Norway, still worries those loopholes “will allow the fossil industry to continue to throw oil on the fire,” while Elise Åsnes of Spire thinks carbon capture and storage plans have turned into “dangerous distractions” that will allow the oil industry to keep pumping for many more years.
Norwegian officials still don’t want to “phase out” the industry or set any concrete deadline for doing so if they must. They went along, however, with the “transitioning away from-” language ultimately agreed upon, still claiming that Norway’s oil and gas will be needed in Europe and beyond for many years to come.