Thursday, August 17, 2017

Norway is not as green as it claims

Norway trumpets its low carbon footprint, but a new report says plans to ramp up oil and gas production in the Arctic will increase its emissions by half again - making a mockery of its Paris Agreement promises.  The report from the research organisation Oil Change International is challenging Norway's reputation as a climate champion. The report represents the first calculation of Norway's planned oil and gas extraction expansion, compared with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The research says 12 gigatonnes of carbon could be added by exploration sites in the Barents Sea and other parts of the Arctic over the next 50 years and concludes that the plans are incompatible with the Paris goals to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Though it may be adopting laudable emissions reduction efforts domestically, it is exporting 10 times the amount of its domestic emissions to other countries through the extraction and export of North Sea oil and gas. It is the 6th largest gas producer in the world and the 15th largest oil producer. The main thing worrying environmentalists, which sponsored the report, is that these exports are set to grow. The report asserts that Norway's continued extraction efforts are hurting the global effort to wean the world off of oil and gas. It raises a particular alarm about the country's plans for oil development in the Arctic. "Much of this proposed development pushes further into the fragile and remote Arctic ... where a spill would be catastrophic," the report warns.

"Norway wants to be a climate leader - but every lease sale, every piece of new fossil fuel infrastructure, and every expansion into new carbon to be burned elsewhere says otherwise," Friends of the Earth's Silja Ask Lundberg told DW. 

Last year, Oslo issued 56 new licenses to allow 36 companies to explore near the Lofoten Islands - home of some of the world's richest cod stocks. Statoil, the national oil company, also plans to spend $6 billion developing the Castberg field, a stretch of Arctic ocean to the north of the country that could hold as much as 650 million barrels of oil equivalent.The report calls on the new government to freeze further leases or permits for new oil and gas extraction projects, or for transportation infrastructure that would incentivize further exploration.  Prime Minister Erna Solberg has remained unconvinced by the argument that Norway should stop the extraction. However much of this exploration is on hold pending the election on September 11 - particularly any extractive activity at the Lofoten Islands but green groups are hoping that a successor government might be more open to their message.

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