New Norwegian government outlines climate ambitions despite commitment to oil

Norway's new centre-left government said Wednesday it wants to toughen the country's targets for reducing emissions by 2030, while preserving its economically important oil sector.

Jonas Gahr Støre, pictured at a Labour Party event, along with Centre Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum unveiled the policy platform for the new government.
Jonas Gahr Støre, pictured at a Labour Party event, along with Centre Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum unveiled the policy platform for the new government. Photo by Arbeiderpartiet on Flickr.

The incoming government, formed from the Labour and Centre parties after the parliamentary elections in September, said it wished to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent of their 1990 level by 2030.

Climate ambitions had so far targeted a range between 50 and 55 percent. The aim for the top of the range was included in the government’s policy platform, presented Wednesday after several weeks of negotiations.

The new government is due to take office on Thursday under the leadership of the Labour Party’s Jonas Gahr Støre.

It also announced it would honour a plan to raise the country’s carbon tax to 2,000 Norwegian kroner ($230, 200 euros) per tonne, up from the current 590 kroner. And the new coalition also reaffirmed its commitment to the country’s oil industry.

“The oil and gas sector will be developed, not dismantled,” the two parties said in their policy roadmap.

“Climate policy must not be moralising and must be fair,” they added.

Most of the emissions generated by Norwegian oil and gas occur when it is consumed outside Norway and are therefore not included in national figures.

The oil sector accounts for 14 percent of Norway’s gross domestic product, as well as 40 percent of its exports and 160,000 direct jobs.

The head of Norway’s chapter of the WWF, Karoline Andaur, welcomed the increase in the climate target and the increase in the carbon tax, but called the new platform “weak on concrete measures” and “horrifying in terms of the still high activity in oil and gas”.

With the new climate target, Norway is bringing itself in line with the European Union, of which it is not a member.

Oslo is closely associated through its membership in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Schengen free-travel area. The two-party coalition will only control 76 seats in the 169-member Norwegian parliament and will rely on negotiations with other parties to pass laws.

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Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre met his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Friday, where the pair signed a joint declaration on strategic cooperation between the two countries. 

Norway and UK sign joint declaration on cooperation 

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre visited Downing Street on Friday and met UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, where the pair signed a declaration of cooperation between the two countries. 

“Britain is a good neighbour and close ally. We have a long tradition of close cooperation. The British are now outside the EU, and bilateral cooperation is becoming even more important than before,” Støre said in a statement on the government’s website

The joint declaration on bilateral strategic cooperation outlines defence and security, the climate and environment, research and innovation and education and culture as issues the two countries wish to cooperate on in the future. 

Støre’s visit was the first bilateral meeting of the countries’ PMs since Brexit. The pair also discussed the green shift, the war in Ukraine and defence. 

Støre also arranged a round table conference on energy, the climate and business with the UK Minister of Trade, Kwasi Kwarteng, and a number of representatives from Norwegian and British firms. 

“The green transition is important for our two countries. I spoke about our great ambitions for offshore wind, and this is one of many areas where Norway and the United Kingdom can cooperate more,” Støre said. 

Earlier this week, the Norwegian government announced that it would build 1,500 offshore wind turbines by 2040

Last year, the UK and Norway signed a post-Brexit trade deal, which the Norwegian government said was the largest free trade agreement the country had entered into outside of its arrangement with the European Economic Area.