Norway to become climate neutral by 2050

We stay in the arctic region as today’s article is on Norway which expressed its willingness to become totally climate neutral by 2050.

Being climate neutral means that one country – or one person – does not emit any greenhouse gases or when it does, offset its emissions.

In this article I will have a look at the many consequences such a choice can have and if it is feasible on the scale of a larger country or globally.

First of all, I would like to state the many advantages the country have to achieve its most ambitious goal. The main one is its small population – less than five million people – located in a quite large area – approx. 400,000 square kilometers.

This large country size and small population enable the country to have virtually all its electricity – more than 99 percent – provided by hydro electricity, which is the least greenhouse gases emitting energy source.

Second factor. It is a rich country, with the second highest GDP per capita. This makes it quite easy to seriously think about the environment. Indeed, when every single thing of the every day life is tackled, one can think of its future.

A part of its impressive wealth is due to oil exports as Norway is the tenth world oil producer with 2.8 million barrels per day. (source : Top World Oil Producers and Consumers, IEA)

It is worth noting that Norway’s greenhouse gases emissions have been rising. As the WWF states :

Norway’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 were 8% above the 1990 base year emissions, in complete contradiction to the commitments in the Kyoto Protocol.

According to the Kyoto Protocol, Norway was supposed to have no more than 1% higher emissions compared to 1990 in the period 2008 – 2012.

Here are some of the main measures taken by the Norwegian government :

  • Prohibiting landfilling of biodegradable waste as from 2009.
  • Prohibiting the installation of oil-fired boilers in new buildings as from 2009.
  • Introducing a new scheme for supporting the conversion of oil-fired boilers to boilers using renewable energy.
  • Continuing the efforts to improve public transport, including the efforts to improve rail transport.
  • (…)

Is offsetting right ? That’s a question that I have been asking myself for some time. I came to think that it is no perfect solution but that it can help a bit when all the other have been used extensively (mainly  energy efficiency, behavioural changes, renewables, nuclear and afforestation)

Indeed, why paying some people or country to do something when one can act to solve the problem by him or herself ? With the above mentionned solutions, most greenhouse gases emissions could be decreased drastically…

For more on offsetting, I recommend you to read an article by Jean-Marc Jancovici (La “neutralité” CO2 : vraie bonne idée, ou mise du doigt dans l’oeil jusqu’au coude ? in French only I am afraid)

I will keep on writing in the coming weeks on all related topics, so stay tuned ! and please don’t hesitate to post a comment on this article as I will gladly read you.

Read out more on Norway :

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