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Ambitious Norwegian white paper on climate efforts

The Norwegian Government intends to take a number of steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote technological advances. Some of the most important are: establishing a new climate and energy fund, raising the CO2 tax rate for the offshore industry, and improving public transport.

The Norwegian Government intends to take a number of steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote technological advances. Some of the most important are: establishing a new climate and energy fund, raising the CO2 tax rate for the offshore industry, and improving public transport.

“This is an ambitious white paper. We will be implementing more effective policy instruments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions both in Norway and abroad. Norway is already one of the countries with the most ambitious climate policy targets, and we are now going to step up our efforts further,” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

The white paper, which was presented in Oslo today, keeps to the targets set out in the 2008 agreement on climate policy. Measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be implemented in most sectors in Norway. A climate and energy fund will be established for the development of emission reduction technology. The CO2 tax on emissions from Norway’s offshore petroleum production will rise by NOK 200 per tonne, giving operating companies a stronger incentive to use electricity generated onshore. The Government will also focus on public transport, energy-efficient housing and forest-related measures to maintain and increase CO2 uptake.

“We plan a forward-looking process that will enable Norway to make the changeover to a low-carbon society. We will make it easier for people to make climate-friendly choices in their day-to-day lives, and will support industry in developing the necessary technology. This will require implementing climate measures in Norway that are more expensive than corresponding measures in other countries,” said Minister of the Environment Bård Vegar Solhjell.

“The policy set out in this white paper will transform Norway as a whole, across all sectors, into a more climate-friendly society. We will make changes in most sectors, from industry to housing and transport. I believe that active, responsible use of the natural environment can make a vital contribution. I am therefore very pleased about the plans for an active forest policy, and that we will make use of the huge potential of forests to mitigate climate change,” said Minister of Transport and Communications Liv Signe Navarsete, leader of the Centre Party.

“I am particularly pleased that there will be a concerted effort to improve public transport in cities and the larger towns, and that funding for footpaths and cycle paths is to be doubled. Together with the increase in the CO2 tax for the petroleum sector and the focus on technology development, this adds up to an ambitious policy for a more climate-friendly Norway,” said Audun Lysbakken, leader of the Socialist Left Party.

Funding for technology and restructuring
It is vital to restructure Norwegian industry so that it can meet future requirements to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Government will establish a climate and energy fund to promote technological advances in industry, under the existing public enterprise Enova. The aim is to develop technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The fund will be increased by NOK 5 billion in 2013, resulting in a total capital of NOK 30 billion. The fund will gradually be increased to 50 billion in 2020.

Enova will work in close cooperation with industry, research communities, the Climate and Pollution Agency and other public agencies.

More effective policy instruments in the petroleum sector
The Government’s goal is to increase the offshore industry’s use of electricity generated onshore. This means that generation capacity or the transmission grid must be upgraded sufficiently to avoid any regional imbalance. At the same time, biological and landscape diversity must be safeguarded. In order to increase the incentive for petroleum companies to switch to electricity generated onshore, the Government will increase the CO2 tax for this sector by NOK 200 per tonne, almost twice the present level. If the price of emission allowances  increases over time, the CO2 tax may be reduced to keep the overall carbon price more or less stable. The Government will draw up an extensive analysis  and strategy for the use of land-based power involving coordinated development of neighbouring offshore oil and gas fields . 

A more climate-friendly transport sector
The Government’s aim is for public transport, cycling and walking to absorb the growth in passenger transport in the larger urban areas. Railway investments will be increased, particularly around cities and the largest towns. Within the framework of the National Transport Plan, the Government will present a progress plan for the development of intercity services in Eastern Norway, with deadlines for the completion of the individual stretches. Funding for footpaths and cycle paths will be doubled by 2017. The use of vehicle taxes as an incentive to switch to more environment-friendly vehicle types will continue. Plug-in hybrid cars will be given access to parking with charging facilities. The Government will promote the development of the value chain for second-generation biofuel.

A climate-friendly building sector
The Government will present an action plan for energy efficiency, with the aim of reducing overall energy use in the building sector considerably by 2020. Energy use requirements in the building regulations will be tightened to passive house standard in 2015 and to close to zero-energy standard by 2020. The use of oil-fired boilers by private households will be phased out. Enova will be able to award households grants for the replacement of oil-fired boilers.

The agricultural sector and carbon uptake by forests
The Government will maintain or increase the carbon pool through an active, sustainable forest policy, including tree breeding, denser planting, reintroduction of the ban on felling young trees, and a general strengthening of forest conservation. The Government will present a strategy for increasing tree planting. The Government will also contribute to the production of biogas in Norway, through farm-based installations and large facilities for the treatment of manure and waste.

Increased international climate efforts
The Government will work towards an ambitious global climate agreement. Within the overall framework for Norwegian development cooperation, which will be expanded further, the Government will consider increasing funding for Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative to more than NOK 3 billion a year. The Government will contribute to cuts in emissions of short-lived climate drivers such as soot and methane through enhanced international cooperation. The Government will also contribute to the Green Climate Fund.

Research and studies
The Government will continue to scale up climate research. Based on the experience of the current legislation and policy instruments, the Government will consider whether it is appropriate to draw up a separate climate act.