: Norway’s Fossil Fuel Reliance Is Going to the Ballot Box #WorldNEWS Fossil fuels helped to catapult Norway from a stable but small fishing and timber economy into one of the wealthiest and most progressive
Norway’s Fossil Fuel Reliance Is Going to the Ballot Box #WorldNEWS
Fossil fuels helped to catapult Norway from a stable but small fishing and timber economy into one of the wealthiest and most progressive welfare states in the world.
Now, climate change is forcing the country to consider slaughtering its cash cow/golden goose (pick your preferred animal metaphor) in exchange for living up to its environmental ambitions, as an estimated 3 million Norwegians head to the polls on Sept. 13 in a parliamentary election that has centered on the issue of whether saving the planet is worth stopping the fossil fuel gravy train.
Norway fancies itself a green nation. According to a report by the U. N. Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, the country has a “strong environmental record. ” Its air and water are pristine, and the vast majority of electricity is generated by emissions-free hydropower plants. The country is a leader in renewable energy production. Environmental regulations are stringent, with fossil fuel use banned for heating buildings and strong incentives for the purchase of electric cars. In August, 70% of new vehicles sold were fully electric—more than in any other country. Norway was also one of the first nations in the world to introduce a carbon tax, in 1991.
By most measures, the country is also at the front of global efforts to combat climate change. Norway devotes substantial resources to combating deforestation in the developing world through its International Climate and Forest Initiative and is a top donor to the Green Climate Fund. The government has invested strongly in R&D, especially for the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. The nation’s key financial institutions, including its central bank and its sovereign wealth fund, have divested from coal-related businesses and they are phasing out investments in companies involved in oil and gas exploration and production, instead re-directing capital toward unlisted renewable energy ventures. These policies have broad popular support, especially among young and urban citizens who increasingly rate climate as their most important policy priority.
But beneath its green veneer, Norway remains the most fossil fuel-dependent industrialized democracy in the world. Crude oil and natural gas account for 41% of exports, 14% of gross domestic product (GDP), 14% of government revenues, and between 6% and 7% of employment. Home to the largest hydrocarbon reserves in Europe, the country is the world’s third largest exporter of natural gas, and one of the top exporters of crude oil. Norway’s total petroleum production is forecast to increase until 2024 or so.
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