Norway

   

Environmental Policies

#2
Key Findings
With a strong focus on renewable-energy production, Norway’s environmental policies are deemed to be among the best worldwide (rank 2). Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

Highly sensitive to ecological concerns, the country has a well-developed environmental regulatory system. The rate of renewable-resource use is among the world’s highest, aided by a low population density and strong utilization of hydroelectric power. Air and water quality are very good. Strong incentives for the purchase of electric cars are provided, creating a high and rising market share.

As an oil and gas producer, Norway contributes both directly and indirectly to global CO2 emissions. Per capita energy demand and usage are high. Plans to offset emissions by buying international CO2 quotas have been criticized as an evasion of domestic obligations. However, CO2 emissions are also taxed, and emissions reductions are being promoted across the economy

The country does not have a good waste-management record, and has been internationally criticized for its whale-hunting policy. It has invested strongly in carbon-capture technologies, but these initiatives have proven difficult to take out of the research phase.

Environment

#2

How effectively does environmental policy in your country protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and environmental quality?

10
 9

Environmental policy goals are ambitious and effectively implemented as well as monitored within and across most relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy goals are mainly ambitious and effectively implemented and are monitored within and across some of the relevant policy sectors that account for the largest share of resource use and emissions.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy goals are neither particularly ambitious nor are they effectively implemented and coordinated across relevant policy sectors.
 2
 1

Environmental concerns have been largely abandoned.
Environmental Policy
9
Norwegian public opinion is highly sensitive to environmental issues, and the government regularly promotes international cooperation on environmental issues. There is a wide range of laws regulating various aspects of environmental policy and the use of natural resources, including specific laws on building regulations, pollution controls, wildlife and freshwater fish, municipal health, environmental protection and motorized vehicles.

Norway’s share of renewable-resource use is among the highest in the world. Air and water quality are among the best in the world, largely due to the country’s low population density and the fact that Norway’s main energy source is hydroelectric power, which is in turn due to the natural abundance of water in the country. Less positively, Norway does not have a good record on waste management, and has received international criticism for its policy concerning whale hunting. In addition, energy demand and usage per capita are higher in Norway than in the rest of Europe. This is partly attributable to a legacy of inexpensive energy, a factor that international energy markets have now made a thing of the past. The government is committed to energy efficiency. To this end, conservation standards for new buildings have been tightened, and new taxes have been added to the use of electricity and gasoline. However, there is significant scope for improvement in this area.

Moreover, Norway is also a major oil and gas producer, which directly and indirectly contributes to increased global carbon dioxide emissions. The government’s plans for achieving its climate goals have sparked national and international controversy. The intention is to continue to tax carbon dioxide emissions, rely strongly on the purchase of international carbon dioxide quotas to a degree that appears to be exceed EU standards (to which Norway is committed despite not being an EU member state), and to promote emission reductions across all sectors of the economy. In the course of this plan, it has been involved in projects to save forest land in Africa, Asia and South America. Environmental groups have criticized the country for attempting to buy its way out of the problem rather than enacting appropriate and lasting economic and organizational reforms.

Research performed by government-owned companies has led to pioneering technological innovations involving carbon dioxide storage in seabeds, which aim to reduce and ultimately eliminate carbon dioxide emissions associated with gas exploitation. However, these initiatives have proved difficult and costly in the transition from research to large-scale experimentation.

Recent positive developments include an announcement that the state petroleum fund will stop investing in coal and petroleum-related businesses, as well as the boost in electric car sales resulting from e-mobility subsidies and incentives. The government also plans to introduce similar measures for electric ships. Citizens, in particular young voters in urban areas, are increasingly seeing climate policy as the most important priority.

Global Environmental Protection

#4

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, contributes to their being advanced and has introduced appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally contributes to their being advanced and/or has introduced some appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but does not contribute to their being advanced and has not introduced appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
9
The Norwegian government promotes itself as a lead actor in international environmental efforts and climate negotiations. As an oil and gas producer, it is also a substantial emitter of CO2. Norway is involved in the United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD). However, the country has also been criticized for buying itself out of burdensome domestic environmental obligations by purchasing international CO2 quotas instead of reducing emissions. Norway has invested in carbon-capture technologies, but positive results are not yet broadly evident. The country is additionally involved in helping spread technology related to renewable energy. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund is increasingly concerned about climate risks. The fund has recommended diversifying away from oil and gas production and has promoted the carbon risk financial disclosure initiative.
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