Photo via Orange Smile
I think I want to move to Norway. The Scandinavian nation announced some of the boldest goals for curbing carbon emissions during the run-up to Copenhagen. And today, it released its plans outlining exactly how it will cut 30% of its emissions by 2020--some of the deepest emissions cuts of any nation ever. And that plan includes infrastructure for electric cars, using more biofuels, creating more bike paths, carbon capture, and more. The cost of this massive, far-reaching, forward-looking plan? Norway predicts its clean economy of 2010 would be a teensy 0.25% smaller than its projected oil dependent economy at the same time. Which is a small price to pay, both for taking the morally correct action of working to prevent climate change, and for giving Norway a foothold in the clean energy tech industries of the future.
Pay Attention Developed Nations, This Is How It's Done
The 300 page report released by Norway's government is called the "Climate Cure". It outlines how the oil-dependent nation plans on halting the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, then scaling them back between 15-17 million tons a year.
The report assessed measures such as capturing and storing greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas installations, biofuels, more electric cars and energy efficiency in buildings. Among cost-effective measures were building cycle paths in cities to discourage car use.So, Norway is going to have more bike paths, electric cars, and energy efficient buildings? Like I said, I think I'm moving. Here's the clincher--curbing carbon is fully expected to be expensive, as detailed by the report. Government officials estimate that they'll initially spend at least $188 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions avoided. That's 10 times as much as it costs to do so in the EU's carbon trading scheme, and 10 times what a pollution permit would cost under the proposed energy legislation in the US. Also, Norway uses very little coal power, so cutting CO2 is harder and more expensive--it can't just take coal plants offline.
But Norway is cutting carbon anyways. Because they know it's a sound investment. It's that simple. Norway will use tax revenues from carbon to invest in clean projects. They predict that cutting carbon will stimulate their clean energy economy, which will nearly compensate for the costs during the first 10 years. After that, the economic benefits would likely exceed the cost of curbing emissions.
The Oil Rich Nation Moves Away From Oil
As an oil-rich, oil-dependent nation, Norway is wise to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. And yes, Norway has some distinct advantages in undertaking such an ambitious goal--it has the equivalent of a national slush fund from past oil and gas revenues that will act as security. But even so--Norway doesn't have to risk revolutionizing its economy and industry. It could sit on that oil cash while more pours in.
But by taking these drastic measures, the nation is putting itself at the forefront of the incipient global clean energy economy--when the rest of the world's nations catch up, it will have the relevant infrastructure and policies already in place. Talk about getting ahead. Norway, we salute you--you're an inspiration at a time when the world needs one.