Norway sets new climate target

Norway, the largest oil producer in Western Europe, on Thursday announced it intended to cut 1990 emissions levels "at least 55 percent" by 2030, in line with EU goals.

Pictured is a glacier in Norway.
Norway has brought its climate goals in line with EU targets. Pictured is a glacier in Norway. Photo by Maksim Shutov on Unsplash

Just days before the COP27 climate conference in Egypt, the announcement is in line with commitments made by the centre-left coalition government when it
took power in 2021.

While not a member of the European Union, the Scandinavian country’s new target brings Oslo in line with the overall target set by the 27-member bloc. Oslo also announced that it would present climate plans each year going forward.

Norway’s climate target was previously to reduce emissions by between 50 and 55 percent of 1990 levels.

“This sends a strong signal to other countries, and we hope that more will up their targets,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said on Thursday.

Store’s Labour Party and its ally, the Centre Party, rule out dismantling the oil sector, which is a major part of the national economy.

The war in Ukraine and the reduction in Russian exports have seen Norway become the leading gas supplier to Britain and the European Union.

“The demand for fossil fuel energy will fall and renewable energy production must increase. This has to go hand in hand,” Store told a news

He stressed that the planet would still need oil in years to come and argued it was “not a bad thing that some of it comes from the Norwegian
continental shelf, which has the lowest emissions.”

Last week, the United Nations said current country climate pledges leave the world on track to heat by as much as 2.6 degrees Celsius this century,
warning that emissions must fall 45 percent this decade to limit disastrous global warming.

A day earlier, the UN’s climate change agency had said governments were doing “nowhere near” enough to keep global heating to 1.5C and would steer a
world already wracked by increasing floods, heatwaves and storms towards “catastrophic” warming.

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Norwegian battery start-up Freyr demands subsidies to complete factory

The Freyr battery start-up has halted construction of its Giga Arctic factory and demanded additional government subsidies, Norway's state broadcaster NRK has reported.

Norwegian battery start-up Freyr demands subsidies to complete factory

Jan Arve Haugan, the company’s operations director, told the broadcaster that the company would not order any more equipment until Norway’s government committed to further subsidies. 

“We are holding back further orders for prefabricated steel and concrete pending clarification on further progress,” he said. “We are keen to move forward, but we have to respect that there is a political process going on, and we have expectations that words will be put into action.” 

Freyr in April 2019 announced its plans to build the 17 billion kroner Giga Arctic in Mo i Rana, and has so far received 4 billion kroner in loans and loan guarantees from the Norwegian government. It has already started construction and hopes to complete the build by 2024-2025. 

Haugan said that the enormous subsidies for green industry in the Inflation Reduction Act voted through in the US in 2022 had changed the playing field for companies like Freyr, meaning Norway would need to increase the level of subsidies if the project was to be viable. 

Freyr in December announced plans for Giga America, a $1.3bn facility which it plans to build in Coweta, Georgia.   

“What the Americans have done, which is completely exceptional, is to provide very solid support for the renewable industry,” Haugen said. “This changes the framework conditions for a company like Freyr, and we have to take that into account.” 

Jan Christian Vestre, Norway’s industry minister, said that the government was looking at what actions to take to counter the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, but said he was unwilling to get drawn into a subsidy battle with the US. 

“The government is working on how to upgrade our instruments and I hope that we will have further clarifications towards the summer,” he said.

“We are not going to imitate the Americans’ subsidy race. We have never competed in Norway to be the cheapest or most heavily subsidised. We have competed on competence, Norwegian labour, clean and affordable energy and being world champions in high productivity.”