Norway’s parliament has approved a radical goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2030, two decades earlier than planned. This is a bold pledge to reduce the nation’s net carbon footprint to zero over the next 14 years.
On the night of June 14, MPs voted for an accelerated program of CO2 cuts and carbon trading to offset emissions from sectors such as Norway’s oil and gas industries.
In line with its high-profile environmental agenda, the program is part of several public environmental protection moves that include the world’s first zero deforestation policy and a rumored ban on fossil fuel-based cars in the next decade.
“This is a direct response to the commitments Norway took on by ratifying the Paris agreement and means that we will have to step up our climate action dramatically,” says Rasmus Hansson, the leader of the Norwegian Green party.
Doubts and Skepticism
However, several voices are casting doubt on the new program, saying that it will amount to nothing. The minority government’s ruling Progress and Conservative parties withdrew their support for the motion at the last minute. They argued that ambitious emissions reductions now could interfere with future climate negotiations.
The Guardian reports that the wording of the parliamentary motion was left deliberately vague, when it says “climate neutrality can be achieved through the EU emissions trading market, international cooperation on emissions reductions, emissions trading and project-based cooperation.”
Norway’s climate minister also expressed doubt on the parliament’s program, saying that the proposal from parliament focuses on carbon offsets and carbon trading, not reducing Norway’s own emissions.
This means that while the nation is currently responsible for 53 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, calculations will balance that with environmental good works abroad, to achieve the carbon neutral label.
In fact, a Norwegian decision in January will increase fossil fuel production in some of the region’s riskiest and most environmentally fragile areas. However, it argues that that move will increase natural gas production, which can reduce Europe’s reliance on coal.