Norway MPs vote to go carbon neutral by 2030

A wind power station near the scientific base of Ny Alesund in Norway's Svalbard archipelago
A wind power station near the scientific base of Ny Alesund in Norway's Svalbard archipelago

Lawmakers have voted for Norway, a major energy-producing nation, to become carbon-neutral by 2030, two decades ahead of schedule, as a result of the UN's December 2015 climate accord.

A resolution was approved by MPs late Tuesday in a 54-47 vote despite opposition from the conservative minority government.

To achieve its goal of being a zero net contributor to carbon, Norway will have to purchase so-called carbon offsets abroad.

Offsets are investments in projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere, such as reforestation or afforestation, or improving energy efficiency or a switch to cleaner power in poor countries.

Climate and Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen, in a letter to parliament, branded the initiative premature and costly, saying the price could be as much as 20 billion kroner (3.2 billion euros) per year in 2030.

The opposition however defended the move.

"Would it be less costly and would the consequences for society be diminished if we postpone this measure?" asked Terje Aasland of the Labour Party.

As western Europe's main oil producer, Norway is a big indirect contributor to heat-trapping fossil fuel gases, but it is also vocal in the fight against .

Its rose 1.5 percent in 2015 than the previous year, mainly after a new oil field went into operation.

Emissions are now higher than in 1990, a benchmark year in calculating efforts to reduce global-warming gases.

Its electricity is already mostly produced by hydro.

In 2008, Norway had set a date of 2030 for neutrality but said this was dependent on an international climate agreement.

After the failure of the UN's Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, the deadline was pushed back to 2050.

However, the 2015 deal reached in Paris reactivated the 2030 objective.

The MPs also voted in favour of a recommendation to ratify the agreement.

Under the so-called COP21 gathering in Paris, 177 governments set a target of limiting global warming to "well below" 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared with pre-industrial levels.

Scientists warn that Earth is on track for much higher and potentially catastrophic warming, and reaching the 2 C target will require unprecedented effort.


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Jun 15, 2016
"Would it be less costly and would the consequences for society be diminished if we postpone this measure?" asked Terje Aasland of the Labour Party.


The answer appears to be yes.

Because the measure they propose means paying indulgences to pretend that you're not emitting CO2, and not actually doing much about the fact. They can't keep paying forever to make the problem go "away" because they would still be emitting CO2 - they also have to implement real measures to stop emitting CO2.

So the proposed measures would actually have them pay twice: once for the carbon offsets, and twice to actually stop emitting carbon.

It would make more sense for the Norwegian society to do just one thing: stop emitting carbon. While the government's proposal to buy carbon offsets would benefit the world by reducing CO2 emissions elsewhere, it's going against the public interest of the Norwegians themselves - they're not responsible for dealing with everyone else's pollution.

Jun 15, 2016
If anything, the money spent on the carbon offsets abroad should be put into reducing Norway's domestic carbon emissions faster.

Jun 15, 2016
@Eikka. Very true. Paying "poorer" nations who are almost all located in sunny areas is not the answer. They are already cheaper off buying solar. European nations have been leading the world for decades now towards clean energy. Leading in massive solar, wind and also massive hydro generation. Even over 98% of all the worlds offshore windmills are located in European waters. But Europe needs to do even more. To become truly energy independent as nations like Germany are already focusing on. Solar on each roof, etc. Also moving to electric cars it will be huge cost savings. Where EU countries are now still paying 400 Billion a year to non EU nations like Russia, the US, Saudi-Arabia, Norway, Qatar, Iraq, Venez.. etc. Keeping that 400 Billion a year in Europe is equal to 23 times the NASA budget, Each Year!!! And with added jobs. Together with things like tackling massive tax evasion, the single EU patent (2018) to boost competition, etc then Europe should be filthy rich (yet again).

Jun 15, 2016
Offsets are investments in projects that reduce carbon in the atmosphere, such as reforestation or afforestation, or improving energy efficiency or a switch to cleaner power in poor countries.

This is a very good idea. Poorer nations have been clamoring that they cannot afford to go carbon neutral. So if richer nations can help them do so (freeing them in the process of the dependency of fossil fuel imports) then thats' win-win.
And in the end this will not stop the richer nations from replacing the rest of their old energy sources once they are "carbon neutral with foreign offsets"...since there is a popular demand for getting rid of polluting industries, anyhow.

Jun 15, 2016
At this stage, there is no such thing as "too soon" to become carbon neutral for any nation . And not just for the environment - this ceased to be an environmental issue when we cracked 400ppm. The faster the better for everybody and the long-term economic benefits are clear regardless of the initial cost.

Jun 16, 2016
So if richer nations can help them do so (freeing them in the process of the dependency of fossil fuel imports) then thats' win-win.


That's not necessarily so. Norway's rich because they export oil and gas, and derivatives. Going CO2 neutral means dropping off their main source of income, so it's not given that they can afford to both fix their own and fund third world countries at the same time.

And on the point of foreign aid, that too is a double edged sword as seen from hunger aid and various red cross programs that distribute food and clothes: it discourages and destroys domestic production in the target country because the external aid fills the demand and puts people out of jobs and make the problem worse.

So, it's a sort of economic imperialism. Rather than help a country up by its own merits, it makes them dependent on imports - both goods and labor such as engineers - and once the aid stops... well it's back to square one.

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