The Norwegian Commission on Low Emissions was appointed by the Norwegian government on March 11, 2005. The Commission has been charged with the task of preparing scenarios of how Norway can reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 50-80 percent by 2050.
The Commission presented their final report to Minister of the Environment Helen Bjørnøy on October 4th 2006.
The Commission was chaired by Professor Jørgen Randers from the BI Norwegian School of Management. The other members were Eli Arnstad, Managing Director, Enova; Ola Flåten, Professor, Norwegian College of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø; Alvhild Hedstein, Director, Ecolabelling in Norway; Lasse Nord, Director, Norsk Hydro; Hanne Lekva, Director, Statoil ASA; and Sverre Aam, President, SINTEF.
Why should Norway reduce its current level of greenhouse gas emissions by about two-thirds?
The Commission stresses that we face a serious and accelerating climate problem as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. The consequences of the projected climate change are complex and varied – with potentially serious damaging effects. To gain control over the situation, major cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are necessary. Fairness dictates that the rich countries reduce their greenhouse gases by about two-thirds from current levels by the middle of this century.
Is it reasonable that Norway, which is responsible for less than two-tenths of a percent of the global emissions, worry about reducing its emissions? The Commission believes that the answer is yes – for several reasons.
First, many countries have miniscule emissions seen in a global context. The five countries that have the greatest emissions are responsible for about half the global emissions. If the all the countries with relatively small emissions were to leave mitigation to only the major emitters, we would never be able to get the climate situation under control.
Second, it is reasonable, as stated in the UN Convention on Climate Change, that rich countries pave the way and reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases before countries with social and economic development needs are required to set climate targets. Norway is without doubt one of the countries which, from this perspective, should agree to restrict its emissions.
And finally, the Commission believes that the climate problem will make it necessary and desirable from a selfish perspective to reduce emissions sooner or later. The countries that develop the necessary climate-friendly technology early on will gain a competitive advantage in future industry development, and will thus be able to position themselves favorably in a future market for such technology.
Today, oil and gas, the process industry, and transportation each represent about a quarter of our emissions. The remaining emissions come primarily from heating, agriculture, and waste disposal. Future emissions levels are uncertain and are determined by national and international development.
|In the future we expect emissions of about 70 million tons CO2 equivalents. Historical and projected annual emissions of greenhouse gases are shown in the Commission’s reference path. The low-emission goal for 2050 is also shown. (Click for large version)
What can Norway do to reduce its emissions by two-thirds?
– The Commission’s general solution
The Commission has projected a scenario for how emissions growth can look in the future – a so-called reference scenario. The greenhouse gas emissions in the reference path in 2050 are about 70 million tons of CO2 equivalents. About three quarters of the emissions in this scenario are distributed fairly evenly between electricity production, the process industry, and transportation. The remaining emissions will come mainly from gas and oil activity, heating, agriculture, and waste disposal. The Commission has identified 15 measures that together will ensure the necessary reduction in Norwegian emissions in a long-term perspective. The measures are mainly directed at specific and major emissions sources, with the exception of two basic measures that the Commission see as prerequisites for the realization of the other measures.
Table: The Commission’s general solution
- Implementation of long-term national investment in climate information – a long-lasting climate awareness campaign. Dissemination of accurate and relevant facts about the climate problem and what can be done.
- Investment in the development of climate-friendly technologies through long-term and stable support for the Commission’s technology package. This technology package emphasizes technologies for carbon capture and storage, wind power (especially at sea), pellet and clean-burning woodstoves and fireplaces, biofuels, solar cells, hydrogen technologies, heat pumps, and low-emission ships.
- Phasing in of low- and zero-emission vehicles, such as hybrid cars, light diesel cars, electric cars, and fuel-cell cars.
- Phasing in of CO2-neutral fuels, such as bioethanol, biodiesel, biogas and hydrogen.
- Reduction of transportation demands through improved logistics and urban planning.
- Development and phasing in of low-emission ships.
- Increased energy efficiency in buildings through stricter building codes, eco-labeling, and subsidies.
- ransition to CO2-neutral heating through increased use of biomass, more effective use of solar heat, heat pumps, etc.
Agriculture and waste disposal
- Collection of methane from manure pits and landfill, and use of the gas for energy purposes.
- Implementation of carbon capture and storage from industries with large pulse emissions.
- Implementation of process improvements in energy-intensive industries.
Oil and gas activities
- Electrification of the continental shelf and more facilities located on land.
- Expansion of “new renewable” energy through construction of wind and small hydro-electric power stations.
- Implementation of carbon capture and storage from gas-fired and coal-fired power plants.
- Upgrading and improved efficiency of the electricity grid to reduce loss in the grid and give smaller power plants better access.
|Illustration of the general solution. Annual emissions of greenhouse gases in the past, in the Commission’s reference path, and in the proposed low-emission path 1990–2050. (Click for large version)
How much will the general solution cost?
The Commission’s calculations show that the national costs need not be exorbitant, given that the measures are implemented when the need for renovation arises and as long as climate-friendly solutions are chosen systematically in new investments. And investment in education, research, development, and testing of climate-friendly technologies will, under any circumstances, strengthen Norway’s technological expertise.
What must be done now?
Even though exchange of equipment and such will take place at a natural pace, it is important that the necessary political signals are sent and framework conditions are established now to achieve a more climate-friendly development in the time to come.
In cooperation with industry, energy suppliers and organizations, the Norwegian government and decision-makers must implement the following measures during the current parliamentary term:
- Develop information campaigns connected to climate change. This requires long-term government support of both general climate information and information on how each person can help reduce emissions without reducing their quality of life.
- Allocate funds for the Commission’s proposed technology package and for the technology investment recommended by the Research Council of Norway’s committee on climate research. This requires generous and long-term funding of prioritized research themes, including increased understanding of decision processes associated with climate measures.
- Further develop technological innovation by building pilot and demonstration projects.
- Realize carbon capture and storage in all gas-fired and coal-fired power plants.
- Invest in low- and zero-emission vehicles. This requires automobile taxation based on environmental incentives, government purchases, government regulation, and ensuring the sale of biofuels in an amount equivalent to at least five percent of the total sales in 2009.
- Increase investment in carbon-neutral heating through support of heating systems based on biofuels and heat pumps, as well as introducing a return deposit for outdated oil and gas boilers.
- Increase investment in energy efficiency improvements through stricter building codes for energy consumption per square meter.
- Establish of clear, stable, and long-term subsidies for development of renewable energy sources. This also includes suppliers of energy to the heating market.
- Stimulate climate-friendly government purchases. This requires comprehensive motivation and training programs for relevant government employees and stricter enforcement of regulations governing public purchases.
- Develop sector-based policy plans and policy recommendations from the ministries with the aim of making Norway climate friendly.
- Work actively to further develop the European emissions trading system and emissions trading under the Kyoto Protocol, as well as to encourage additional countries and sectors to take on binding emissions targets.