Samferdselsminister Jon-Ivar Nygård holdt innlegg på konferansen Green Aviation på gamle Deichman bibliotek.
Norway is probably one of the countries most dependent on air transport in Europe. There are several reasons, including distances, topography and sparse population in most parts of the country. Rail and road transport are quite often not realistic or satisfactory alternatives to air transport.
Aviation therefore has a key role in our regional, national and international public transport infrastructure. To address the ambitious national climate goal and the global climate change issues Mr. Barth-Eide mentioned, it is clearly in our interest to make air transport as green as possible. We need solid and reliable air connectivity also in the future.
Norway has over the past years made progress when it comes to emission reductions in the wider transport sector. We aim to continue this trend, although there is still a long way to go.
One example is the electric car policy measures. The central government and local authorities have given incentives to promote the use of electric cars. These include exemption from taxation; free or reduced public parking fees; zero or reduced toll road fees; and the ability to use bus lanes, to mention a few. Electrifying private cars has been a particular success.
So far in 2022, more than 76 percent of new passenger cars sold were pure battery-electric vehicles. In total, 18 percent of the passenger car-fleet is now electric.
Another example is the fast introduction of zero emission technologies in the car ferries crossing our many fjords. This has been partly due to requirements in public procurement contracts. By the start of this year, there were close to 60 ferries with zero-emission technology in operation on Norwegian ferry connections.
The transport sector accounts for a large contribution to emissions. However, these examples illustrate that a green transition is possible – and can be achieved with the right incentives.
We want to draw on experience from other transport modes when setting measures in the aviation sector. But, the measures cannot be mirrored directly. Moreover, I believe that the technological development in vehicles and ships may also have a spill-over effect on aviation.
As has been mentioned already several times today, but I think it is still important to highlight: Norway’s transport structure is reliant on aviation in general, and regional aviation in particular. We have an extensive infrastructure: 47 airports with regular routes, and a population of approximately 5,4 million people.
Most of the airports serve rural areas, and many of those are short take-off and landing airports with runways down to 800 meters. Additionally, rough weather, high terrain and many short routes give us a vested interest in new technologies.
Our already established infrastructure and demanding topography make Norway a good arena for testing and development of low and zero-emission aircraft. On this basis, Avinor and CAA Norway have been given a mandate to accommodate innovation. Together, they will make airport infrastructure and airspace available for testing of new concepts.
Moreover, the high competence established in for instance oil & gas, maritime-, energy-, and technology-sectors give Norway a good starting point in making the transition into zero and low emission aviation. Another factor, that will prove important, is that we have a population that welcomes low and zero emission solutions.
The government is currently working on a comprehensive aviation strategy. It will be presented to parliament late this year or early next year. The national aviation strategy will focus on sustainability across four main topics.
Sustainable and climate friendly aviation will be a key topic in the national strategy. It will give an overview of existing means and measures to reduce aviation emissions and look into whether there is a need for new ones, and if so, how these should be framed.
In addition to environmental sustainability, the strategy will include economic, geographical, and social matters. We have worked with many aviation stakeholders in the development of the strategy, and that has given us valuable input.
As Barth-Eide said – this government wishes to be partner, and to play a role in accelerating a green transition in the aviation sector. The strategy assesses some ways this can be done.
As mentioned in the government’s political platform, it is our goal to use public procurement to develop and adopt new technology for climate-friendly air transport.
One example of what we are assessing is how we can utilize the Public Service Obligation (PSO) contracts as a tool to facilitate the transition to zero and low emission aircraft. This is partly to ensure the decentralized network of short-haul airports, owned and operated by Avinor, are being used in the electrification of regional aviation.
Avinor has also, as a part of the process for the next National transportation plan, been asked to study how to adapt the airports to support future zero- and low-emission aircraft.
As you are well aware of, aviation is a global industry. That means there is a great deal of research, development, innovation and testing going on internationally to decarbonise the industry. For us, international cooperation, and joint efforts between government authorities, industry, research & academia, and civil society & NGOs will be key for a successful progress in making aviation more sustainable.
We welcome initiatives such as Green Aviation Norway, hosting today’s event, as they contribute to new and creative ways of collaborating.
Additionally, we believe the Nordic region can join hands in promoting regional aviation and will encourage future collaboration. Nordic countries share many similarities and challenges in aviation.
I am meeting my fellow Nordic Tranport Ministers in November to discuss, among other things, the transition to a greener transport sector and how coorporation in the Nordic countries can contribute to this.
Let me conclude by pointing out that Norway is determined to play our part in bringing aviation in the right direction for the future.
We want to collaborate with other countries and international companies. I am sure that together we can make important steps towards a greener and more sustainable aviation industry.