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CLIMATE CHANGE

OECD criticises Norway’s climate efforts

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said that Norway is not in a position to achieve its climate goals and is set to only cut 20 percent of emissions by 2030 rather than the 55 percent the government promised, NRK reports.

A hungry polar bear looks for prays along the shore, near Pyramiden, Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, 2021.
A hungry polar bear looks for prays along the shore, near Pyramiden, Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, 2021. Photo by Olivier MORIN / AFP

This is the fourth time the OECD has conducted a major review of Norway’s efforts for climate and the environment.

Norway is in many areas a pioneer in climate and environmental issues. The take-up of electric vehicles is among the highest in the world and Norway has extensive hydropower. Around 50 percent of Norway’s energy supply is renewable.

However, the report concludes Norway is not doing enough to achieve its own goals and obligations, according to NRK. Among the findings, the report said:

  • Norway is on course towards cutting 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, not 55 percent as the government has promised. However, the Norwegian Parliament has since adopted a climate plan with measures to reduce emissions further.
  • There isn’t a comprehensive and adequate plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture.
  • Norwegian exports of oil and gas contribute to large emissions.
  • The number of endangered species is increasing in Norway, partly due to land use for agriculture, forestry and development for roads and buildings.
  • Norway has one of the world’s highest material consumption and a high material footprint per capita.

Norwegian oil and agricultural policy in particular is criticised in the report. The OECD is now asking Norway to get an overview of all the subsidies the state provides directly and indirectly for the extraction of oil and gas, and to base oil investments in line with the goals in the Paris Agreement.

Norway should also make a plan for how to phase out the production of fossil energy, according to the report.

“The OECD does not say that we should come up with an end date. What they remind us of, is that we must prepare for the fact that oil and gas demand will fall in the long run. We are fully aware of that,” Minister of Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide told NRK.

In agriculture, the OECD calls for Norway to spend less money on income and production in agriculture, and more on support schemes for farmers who want to make agriculture more climate and environmentally friendly.

Regarding waste, the report states that Norway is not on the right track when it comes to having economic growth without it leading to similar growth in the waste that is created. In 2019, Norwegian waste production reached a record high of 12.2 million tonnes, according to NRK.

The OECD proposes stronger incentives to reverse the trend of increased waste production. 

“Norway has the capabilities and financial means to be able to accelerate a transition both within its own borders and abroad. Despite progress in many areas, the country faces a number of challenges, including in terms of sustainable consumption and diversity protection”, the report states.

Minister of Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide calls the OECD report a useful tool in the work of achieving the Norwegian climate and environmental goals.

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TECH

What you need to know about the EU’s plan for a uniform phone charger

The European Union has approved a new regulation that would force tech companies to use a standard charger for mobile phones and electronic devices. What does this mean?

What you need to know about the EU's plan for a uniform phone charger

The European Parliament has approved an agreement establishing a single charging solution for frequently used small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. The law will make it mandatory for specific devices that are rechargeable via a wired cable to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.

The rules have been debated for a while, and the announcement of the agreement has caused controversy, especially among tech companies and enthusiasts. US giant Apple has repeatedly lobbied against the standardisation, saying it halts innovation.

The EU says that the new rules will lead to more re-use of chargers and “help consumers save up to €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases”. Disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to represent about 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, the bloc says.

So, what exactly are the changes?

Which products will be affected?

According to the European Parliament, the new rules are valid for small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. This includes mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable.

Laptops will also have to be adapted, the EU says.

Those devices will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port regardless of their manufacturer.

When will the changes come?

For most devices, the changes are set to come by autumn of 2024. However, the date is not yet set because the regulations need to go to other proceedings within the EU bureaucracy.

After the summer recess, The EU’s Parliament and Council need to formally approve the agreement before publication in the EU Official Journal. It enters into force 20 days after publication, and its provisions start to apply after 24 months, hence the “autumn 2024” expectation.

Rules for laptops are a bit different, and manufacturers will have to adapt their products to the requirements by 40 months after the entry into force of the laws.

Where are the rules valid?

The rules will be valid for products sold or produced in the European Union and its 27 member countries. But, of course, they will likely affect manufacturers and promote more considerable scale changes.

The USB-C cable, with the rounded edges, will be the standard for charging in the EU (Photo by مشعال بن الذاهد on Unsplash)

Why the uniform USB Type-C?

The bloc said the uniform charger is part of a broader EU effort to make products more sustainable, reduce electronic waste, and make consumers’ lives easier.

“European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device”, EU Parliament’s rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba said.

USB Type-C is a standard of charging that has been around for a while but still is one of the best options currently in the market. Also known as USB-C, it allows for reliable, inexpensive, and fast charging. A USB-C port can also be input or output, meaning that it can both send and receive charges and data.

Unlike other ports, it can be the same on both ends of the wire (making it easier and more universal in its use). It can also power devices and sends data much faster.

USB-C can also be used for video and audio connections, so some external monitors can charge your laptop and show your screen simultaneously with the same cable.

What criticism is there?

The project is not without criticism, most vocally from US tech giant Apple, a company that famously has its own charging standard, the “lightning” connection.

Apple claims that forcing a standardisation will prevent innovation, holding all companies to the same technology instead of allowing for experimentation. Still, Apple itself has been swapping to USB-C. Its iPads have already dropped the lightning standard. Its newer laptops can now be charged with the MagSafe proprietary connector and USB-C.

Apple iPhones are still charged with the company’s lightning ports – or wirelessly (Photo by Brandon Romanchuk on Unsplash)

The company’s popular earbuds and peripherals (including keyboards and mice) all charge with lightning. And, of course, the iPhone, Apple’s smartphone, also uses the company’s connection for charging.

While there have been rumours that Apple is working on new iPhones with USB-C connection (though definitely not for the next launch this year’s), the company could go away with wired charging altogether. Instead, like many tech manufacturers, Apple is improving its wireless charging solutions, even creating products dedicated to its MagSafe charging.

It won’t be completely free from the EU regulation if it does that, though. This is because the rules approved by the EU also allow the European Commission to develop so-called “delegated acts” concerning wireless charging. The delegated acts are faster processes that can be applied directly without being put to the vote.

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