"The agreement on climate policy means that Norway can pursue a long-term climate policy that is not affected by changes of government. The Government’s white paper on climate policy laid a sound foundation which we have now used as a basis for reaching an agreement with the three opposition parties,” said Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. The Prime Minister commended the opposition parties for their constructive approach to the negotiations.
The agreement on climate policy is a sign of Norway’s willingness to move forward the target year for becoming carbon-neutral from 2050 to 2030. By doing so, Norway is showing that it is willing to lead the way by setting itself ambitious climate targets. The parties believe that it is realistic to assume that Norway’s annual greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 15–17 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents by 2020 when forest carbon uptake is included. This means that about two thirds of Norway’s total emissions reductions will need to be made nationally.
Considerable funds will be allocated for efforts to promote renewable energy sources, strengthen public transport and implement measures aimed at reducing emissions from the transport sector. At the same time, the taxes on diesel fuel and petrol will be increased. This means that both the stick and the carrot will be used to encourage more environmentally-friendly behaviour and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The purpose of the government parties’ invitation to the opposition was to create a broad-based, long-term majority platform on which a proactive Norwegian climate policy could be based. I am very pleased that we have reached agreement on a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions both in Norway and in other countries,” said Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen.
“The Government’s offer contained proposals for a wide range of specific and ambitious climate measures,” said Minister of Petroleum and Energy Åslaug Haga. One result of the agreement on climate policy is that the Government will already this year set aside additional NOK 70 million for research on renewable energy and carbon capture and storage. In 2009 this additional allocation will increase to NOK 300 million. By 2010 public support for research on renewable energy and carbon capture and storage will amount to at least NOK 600 million.
NOK 150 million will be set aside for a development and demonstration programme for offshore wind turbines and other immature energy technologies.
The Government has also improved tax conditions for small-scale power plants for which a concession application had been submitted by 5 October 2007.
The funds allocated to the incentive scheme to encourage larger urban areas to improve public transport will be doubled, but this is contingent on binding agreements on measures to reduce road traffic being reached.
The allocations for railway investments will be increased by NOK 250 million next year.
The diesel fuel tax will be increased by NOK 0.10 per litre, whereas the petrol tax will correspondingly be increased by NOK 0.05. The purpose is to step up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the proposal must be seen in connection with the increased allocation for public transport.
In the 2009 government budget, NOK 50 million will be allocated to Transnova, a pilot project aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.
The Government intends to present a separate action plan for switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources for heating. Public buildings will be required to have flexible energy systems. Work will be launched to prepare a ban as from 2009 on installing oil-fired heating systems in public buildings and commercial buildings of more than 500 square metres when old oil-fired boilers are replaced or when such buildings undergo major reconstruction that includes their heating systems.
In addition, there are initiatives that have been taken by the Government in parallel with the negotiations as they were in line with proposals made by the three opposition parties. These will involve spending up to NOK 3 billion each year on reducing CO2 emissions caused by deforestation in developing countries.
The Government will resume negotiations with Sweden on green certificates for renewable energy production. If agreement has not been reached by 1 July 2008, the Government will present a proposal for making adjustments to the arrangement for renewable electricity with a view to facilitating an increase in renewable electricity production to match the increase that would have been achieved under the green certificate scheme.