CNN: ‘Norway is a Climate Hypocrite’

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Norway oil rig at sea

Norway, the UK and Canada are not climate champions. They are climate hypocrites, states the American news organisation.

Media organisation CNN has caused a stir in Norway by claiming the country is a climate hypocrite. In a long analysis piece, digital news producer Ivana Kottasová started off by praising Oslo’s green progress:

“The street lamps are powered by renewables. To conserve energy, the smart lights dim when nobody is around. Its public transportation system too is powered entirely by renewable energy. Two thirds of new cars sold the city are electric. There's even a highway for bees.”

Highlighting Norway's green paradox

“However, there’s just one problem,” said Kottasová. Norway may be investing huge sums in wind energy research and carbon capture and storage technology, but the money comes from its oil wealth.

Norway has squirrelled away revenues from oil and gas licensing into what has become the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund. Last year, the fund hit a new record value, passing $1 trillion.

However, despite Norway investing that money in climate mitigation technologies, CNN claims double standards: “Norway, apart from being a forward-thinking climate champion, is also a major fossil fuels exporter. And it plans to keep it that way for a long time to come.”

CO2 Storage in Norway

Norway is highlighted alongside Canada and the UK in the article. While there are many countries still producing fossil fuels despite a commitment to counteract climate change, the three countries stand out because they also position themselves as “climate champions”, states the story.

Territorial climate goals

CNN did allow the Norwegian government a chance to tell its side of the story. Sveinung Rotevatn, Norway's minister of climate and environment, explained that Norway's obligations are based on territorial climate goals.

Read more: News from Norway

“Emissions related to the consumption of exported oil and gas products in other countries are covered by the importers' emissions offices and targets,” he told CNN.

The decision to focus emissions accounting on a territory-by-territory basis goes back to the early days of climate negotiations.

Sveinung Rotevatn, Norway's minister of climate and environment. Photo: Venstre

When asked about Norway's oil and gas export plans, he said “Norway strongly supports the transition from the use and production of fossil energy to renewable energy.”

CNN noted that Norway wants to be carbon neutral by 2050, but that isn't the full picture.

“The so-called ‘net zero' means that if they can't eliminate all emissions completely, they can make up for the difference by removing carbon from the atmosphere, for example by planting more trees,” states the article.

Planting trees to create ‘carbon sinks' is one method, but Norway is also investing heavily in technological solutions to permanently remove CO₂ from the atmosphere.

Norway's green investments

Last year, the Norwegian government announced the funding of a major carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, named Longship.

Equinor Oil Platform on the Troll Field in Norway
Photo: Harald Pettersen / Equinor.

Research scientist Amy Brunsvold discussed CCS on a recent episode of the Life in Norway Show. She manages the Norwegian CCS Research Centre, which aims to lower technical and cost barriers to implement CCS at-scale.

“If we can develop and build the transport and storage infrastructure, then not only can we implement CCS in Norway to reduce our emissions and create green products, we can also accept CO₂ from other sources in Europe. It's also a great opportunity to to create and maintain jobs in the future,” she said.

Some critics say CCS is simply an excuse for Norway to keep the oil rigs pumping. However, in the hundreds of scenarios mapped for an IPCC report to show various pathways to successfully meting the goals of the Paris Agreement, nearly all required CCS.

Norway's carbon tax hike

In January, Norway's prime minister Erna Solberg unveiled a plan to halve CO₂ emissions by 2030 on the way to becoming a net-zero emission country by 2050.

The major proposal is a substantial increase in the CO₂ tax. This will likely lead to higher ticket prices for domestic aviation, higher fuel costs, and increased costs for both private households and businesses.

So, what do you think? Is Norway a climate hypocrite? Or is it using its oil money for the greater good?

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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2 thoughts on “CNN: ‘Norway is a Climate Hypocrite’”

  1. Firstly, Norway has fantastic green credentials and is a world leader in many aspects of renewable power and policies for a greener future.

    Secondly the criticism is from CNN which by definition makes its based on poor research and lazy journalism. CNN is on a par with the Chinese or North Korean media for its impartiality.

    A report best ignored along with everything else CNN puts out.

  2. Well, you can’t be a saint and a sinner at the same time.

    Being greener and cleaner doesn’t mean anything in reality. The fact of the matter is that Norway cannot escape the charge of hypocrisy. Virtually all of their vast wealth comes from the oil under the North Sea. They are essentially condemning Carbon Dioxide on the one hand, while reaping the fruits of it on the other.

    What message does this convey to the general public? It certainly doesn’t convey a positive, coherent and consistent approach with respect to the issue of climate change.


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