By Anders Lorenzen
A Norwegian government minister has urged that we tax fossil fuel companies while also removing any subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
Lars Andreas Lunde is Norway’s minister for climate and the environment. He made those remarks as he addressed delegates at the Economist’s annual Sustainability Summit in London last month.
Mr Lunde’s statement came as I confronted him about the contradictions in Norway’s climate change policies. On one hand they have a very clean electricity system but on the other hand, they’re showing no signs of slowing down fossil fuel production. And as we continue to see the Arctic melt from the impacts of climate change, they continue to see the area as the next fossil fuel frontier. The minister said that we can’t just stop fossil fuel production overnight, but that of course, we have to start weaning ourselves away from it. He pointed out that globally Norway’s oil and gas production accounts for less than 1% of the world’s production.
Lars Lunde had earlier been keen to showcase the Norwegian government`s ambitions on tackling climate change in highlighting their efforts to halt global deforestation. Last year the country became the first in the world to ban deforestation, meaning that all products that enter the country have to be deforestation-free. Norway has also been one of the leading countries in the world to fund anti- deforestation projects. Mr Lunde was keen to link deforestation to tackling climate change, stating that “if we can’t stop deforestation then we can’t stop climate change.”
Many will be encouraged by his remarks on removing fossil fuel subsidies, as well as taxing fossil fuel companies. But environmentalists will be sure to demand action as well as words and will continue to question the sincerity of the government’s climate ambitions as long as they continue their aggressive oil and gas drilling policies in sensitive environmental areas like the Arctic.
Last year several Norwegian green groups and activists joined forces to launch an unprecedented lawsuit against the government‘s continuing policy of issuing oil and gas drilling licenses in the Arctic. That case is still to be heard in court.