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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Could Norway see an influx of Russians at its shared border?  

Finland has said it has seen a surge in people at its border after Moscow's military call-up announcement. So, what is the situation like at Norway's shared border with Russia? 

Could Norway see an influx of Russians at its shared border?  

Last week, Russia announced that it would draft new conscriptions as part of a further mobilisation in Ukraine. 

This has led to an exodus of Russian citizens trying to leave the country and avoid being drafted into the military. 

Finland said on Monday that more Russians entered the country over the weekend than in any other this year so far after Moscow’s military call-up announcement caused a surge in arrivals.

“Last weekend was the busiest weekend of the year for traffic on the eastern border,” Mert Sasioglu of the Finnish border guard told AFP.

The border agency said nearly 8,600 Russians entered Finland via the land border on Saturday, and nearly 4,200 crossed the other way.

Neighbouring Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but is in the Schengen area, also reported a slight increase in crossings from Russia at its Storskog border crossing in the far north.

On Sunday, 243 people entered Norway from Russia, of which 167 had Schengen visas, while 91 left for Russia, according to Norwegian police. The police also stressed that these figures are still lower than the number seen before Covid, but said they expect a possible further increase this week.

Earlier this year, there were media reports that Russians were using Storskog to try and circumnavigate a European-wide flight ban

And last week, A visa agreement for travel between Norway and Russia was suspended. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) writes that the typical rules for applying for a visa to enter Norway will now apply to Russian citizens.

New visa rules mean that the documentation required to apply will be tightened, multiple-entry visas won’t be issued as part of one application, processing times will go up, and fees will also increase.  

READ MORE: Norway suspends visa agreement with Russia

Norwegian newspaper VG reports that this is among a string of measures the UDI has taken to tighten the rules for obtaining a visa as a Russian citizen. 

Norway’s immigration directorate told VG that tourist visas and those to visit friends would be rejected in most cases. Visa applications are being rejected as there are doubts over whether the applicant would return to Russia upon the visa’s expiration. 

Additionally, Russian citizens were moved to the orange visa group. 

“In the orange group, parents, children, and spouses will generally receive visas, while it is more natural to refuse applications for siblings, distant relatives and boyfriends. It will also be more difficult, but not impossible, to get a visa for business trips and visits with a cultural purpose,” Håvard Sætre from the UDI told the Norwegian newspaper VG

Russians are still able to apply for asylum in Norway. However, to apply, they will need to physically reach Norway first. In 2022, 219 Russian citizens have applied for asylum in Norway.