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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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CLIMATE CRISIS

EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

From deadly wildfires to catastrophic floods, Europe is seeing the impact of the climate crisis with episodes of extreme weather only likely to increase in the coming years as average temperatures rise.

EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

Europe endured record extreme weather in 2021, from the hottest day and the warmest summer to deadly wildfires and
flooding, the European Union’s climate monitoring service reported Friday.

While Earth’s surface was nearly 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels last year, Europe saw an average increase of more than two degrees, a threshold beyond which dangerous extreme weather events become
more likely and intense, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said.

The warmest summer on record featured a heatwave along the Mediterranean rim lasting weeks and the hottest day ever registered in Europe, a blistering 48.8C (120 degrees Fahrenheit) in Italy’s Sicily.

In Greece, high temperatures fuelled deadly wildfires described by the prime minister as the country’s “greatest ecological disaster in decades”.

Forests and homes across more than 8,000 square kilometres (3,000 square miles) were burned to the ground.

Front loaders work to move branches and uprooted trees near a bridge over the Ahr river in Insul, Ahrweiler district, western Germany, on July 28, 2021, weeks after heavy rain and floods caused major damage in the Ahr region. – At least 180 people died when severe floods pummelled western Germany over two days in mid-July, raising questions about whether enough was done to warn residents ahead of time. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann / AFP)

A slow-moving, low-pressure system over Germany, meanwhile, broke the record in mid-July for the most rain dumped in a single day.

The downpour was nourished by another unprecedented weather extreme, surface water temperatures over part of the Baltic Sea more than 5C above average.

Flooding in Germany and Belgium caused by the heavy rain — made far more likely by climate change, according to peer-reviewed studies — killed scores and caused billions of euros in damage.

As the climate continues to warm, flooding on this scale will become more frequent, the EU climate monitor has warned.

“2021 was a year of extremes including the hottest summer in Europe, heatwaves in the Mediterranean, flooding and wind droughts in western Europe,” C3S director Carlo Buontempo said in a statement.

“This shows that the understanding of weather and climate extremes is becoming increasingly relevant for key sectors of society.”     

A picture taken on July 15, 2021 shows damaged cars on a flooded street in the Belgian city of Verviers, after heavy rains and floods lashed western Europe, killing at least two people in Belgium. (Photo by François WALSCHAERTS / AFP)

‘Running out of time’

The annual report, in its fifth edition, also detailed weather extremes in the Arctic, which has warmed 3C above the 19th-century benchmark — nearly three times the global average.

Carbon emissions from Arctic wildfires, mostly in eastern Siberia, topped 16 million tonnes of CO2, roughly equivalent to the total annual carbon pollution of Bolivia.

Greenland’s ice sheet — which along with the West Antarctic ice sheet has become the main driver of sea level rise — shed some 400 billion tonnes in mass in 2021.

The pace at which the world’s ice sheets are disintegrating has accelerated more than three-fold in the last 30 years.

“Scientific experts like the IPCC have warned us we are running out of time to limit global warming to 1.5C,” said Mauro Facchini, head of Earth observation at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space, referring to the UN’s science advisory panel.

“This report stresses the urgent necessity to act as climate-related extreme events are already occurring.”

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