Norway plans to triple carbon tax in new climate measures

Norway's government on Friday unveiled a range of measures aimed at achieving the country's climate objectives, including a more than tripling of the country's carbon tax.

Norway plans to triple carbon tax in new climate measures
Photo: Bit Cloud on Unsplash

Norway, the biggest producer of oil in Western Europe, has said it aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 55 percent by 2030.

By 2050, the goal is a reduction of 90 to 95 percent.

“Man-made climate change has serious consequences for humans, animals and nature around the world,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a press conference.

“Norway wants to do its part to curb climate change,” she added.

Among the measures presented, the government proposed a requirement for public services to only buy “zero emission” cars and vans from 2022 onwards.

The same will apply for public auctions on ferry services from 2023 and urban buses from 2025.

The government also wants to promote biofuels and more than triple its carbon tax from today's 590 Norwegian kroner per tonne to 2,000 kroner.

However, as the sitting government is in the minority in parliament, it may need to adjust some of the proposed measures to pass parliament.

Norway has already invested heavily in carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and the tax hike is believed to further encourage the technology.

“It is extremely positive that the government wants to increase the CO2 tax and introduce emissions budgets,” the Norwegian branch of environmental group Friends of the Earth said in a post to Twitter.

“But they are avoiding the big and difficult questions about oil production, motorway construction, airport expansion and energy efficiency,” it added.

Norway, which is powered primarily by hydroelectric dams, is a pioneer when it comes to electric transport.

Last year it became the first country where over half of new cars registered were electric, putting on track for its 2025 goal of having all new cars being “zero-emission.”

But its leaders are also often accused of hypocrisy as they continue to grant new licenses for oil exploration, including in the fragile Arctic waters of the Barents Sea.

READ ALSO: Norway reaches 50 percent electric in 2020 new car sales 

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Norway rules out 2022 oil licences in unexplored areas

Norway will not grant new oil exploration licences in virgin or little-explored areas in 2022 under a political compromise on Monday that hands a modest  victory to opponents of fossil fuels.

Norway rules out 2022 oil licences in unexplored areas
A photo taken on August 30, 2021 shows the Petroleum Museum in Stavanger, Norway, built to show the history of Norway's oil exploration. Norway is the largest producer of hydrocarbons in Western Europe. In the face of the climate emergency, voices are being raised to abandon fossil fuels for good. Petter BERNTSEN / AFP

The Scandinavian country’s governing centre-left coalition supports continuing oil and gas activities but does not have a parliamentary majority, making it reliant on socialist MPs who prioritise green issues.

As part of a compromise on the draft 2022 budget, three parties agreed on Monday that Norway — Western Europe’s largest hydrocarbon producer — would not hold a 26th so-called “ordinary” concession round next year.

This mechanism has allowed oil companies to apply for exploration in previously unexplored areas of the Norwegian continental shelf since 1965.

But the deal does not rule out awarding oil licences in already heavily exploited areas.

Since the North Sea has been extensively explored, the agreement mainly concerns the Barents Sea in the Arctic

The oil industry was a major issue in legislative elections in September, indicating Norway’s growing difficulties in reconciling environmental concerns with exploiting energy resources.

In the 25th concession round in early 2021, only seven oil companies, including Equinor, Shell and Lundin, applied — the lowest number since at least 1978 according to local media.