Why Norway’s government says ending oil industry ‘won’t help’ cut global emissions

Norway’s oil and energy minister says that the oil-rich country would be ‘of no help’ to the environment if it ceased its production of the fossil fuel.

Why Norway’s government says ending oil industry 'won’t help' cut global emissions
File photo: AFP

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru said in an interview with public service broadcaster NRK that, although she wants the ruling Conservative party to be greener, the debate on a deadline for oil and gas production is irrelevant.

Bru, who has also been named by Prime Minister Erna Solberg as the co-deputy leader of the Conservatives, is considered within the party to be one of its ‘green profiles’, NRK writes.

“I am very concerned with achieving our climate goals. I think this must permeate all politics. It's not just about the climate and the environment, but about how we arrange society as a whole,” Bru said on the Politisk kvarter programme.

The minister is against proposals to protect the Lofoten and Vesterålen regions from oil drilling, reintroducing a framework for wind power expansion and setting an end date for oil drilling.

She herself previously espoused a target of zero greenhouse gas emissions from the Norwegian offshore oil industry by 2035, but now says agrees with the industry's own goal for 2050.

Green policies are not solely about setting an end date for Norwegian oil and gas, the petroleum minister argued, citing the transport and energy sectors and food waste as important elements of climate targets.

“If we set an end date for Norwegian oil and gas now, it would not help us along the way to reaching our goals. Emissions must go down, but this is done in partnership with Europe,” the minister said.

 “That we have this debate to such an extent that it dominates just about all climate debates, I honestly think is a form of derailment. It's almost an irrelevant debate, she told NRK.

“It won't help if Norway discontinues production. It would just move to other countries, and then we are no further. This is a complex global problem that requires many solutions. So I honestly think we spend too much time on this debate here in Norway,” Bru said.

Minister of Climate and Environment Sveinung Rotevatn last week received Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljødirektoratet) recommendations on how to achieve the country’s 2030 climate goals.

Dietary changes and emissions-free traffic are among the measures experts propose to halve emissions by 2030.

READ ALSO: Norway's Equinor sets green goals but activists unimpressed

Member comments

  1. Norway should at least slow down searching for new wells during this glut. I drive an electric car as my commuter car, but still have a gas car for longer trips because its just hard to charge an electric car on trips. Norway has a good fund already, rather than continue to drive oil prices down, let it stay in the ground a little longer.

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NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration

Two NGOs and six young climate activists have decided to take Norway to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to demand the cancellation of oil permits in the Arctic, Greenpeace announced on Tuesday.

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration
Northern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

It’s the latest turn in a legal tussle between environmental organisations Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth Norway on one side and the Norwegian state on the other.

The organisations are demanding the government cancel 10 oil exploration licenses in the Barents Sea awarded in 2016, arguing it was unconstitutional.

Referring to the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the organisations claim that the oil licenses violated article 112 of Norway’s constitution, guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy environment.”

The six activists, alongside Greenpeace Nordic and Young Friends of the Earth Norway, hope that the European Court of Human Rights will hear their case and find that Norway’s oil expansion is in breach of human rights,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

In December, Norway’s Supreme Court rejected the claim brought by the organisations, their third successive legal defeat.

READ MORE: Norway sees oil in its future despite IEA’s warnings 

While most of the judges on the court agreed that article 112 could be invoked if the state failed to meet its climate and environmental obligations– they did not think it was applicable in this case.

The court also held that the granting of oil permits was not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, in part because they did not represent “a real and immediate risk” to life and physical integrity.

“The young activists and the environmental organisations argue that this judgment was flawed, as it discounted the significance of their environmental constitutional rights and did not take into account an accurate assessment of the consequences of climate change for the coming generations,” Greenpeace said.

On Friday, the Norwegian government unveiled a white paper on the country’s energy future, which still includes oil exploration despite a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA recently warned that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Norwegian case is an example of a global trend in which climate activists are increasingly turning to courts to pursue their agenda.