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Oil producers morally obliged on climate — Norway

Oil-rich states are morally obliged to support tough limits on global emissions and should spend some of their windfall on environmental protection, a top Norwegian politician said on Wednesday.

Erik Solheim, Norway’s minister of environment and development, told Reuters it was a “paradox” that Norway — one of the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters — “takes pride in being one of the lead nations on environmental protection”. There is a moral obligation for us to do more,” he said in an interview on route to the Arctic ice brim with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.”

I will not point fingers, but very clearly there are some oil and gas producing nations that are underperforming here.” Norway believes that since its oil and gas exports create carbon emissions that help stoke climate change, it must do more than others to help stabilise the environment.Norway has 0.1 per cent of the global population, but its oil and gas accounts for 2.7 per cent of global emissions, according to the Bellona think-thank in Oslo. “Renewables, not oil and gas, are the future solution. (But) in the meantime we must produce hydrocarbons in a most environmentally friendly manner… and use some of the revenues from this as a form of compensation,” he said.Last year Norway invested 1 billion dollars to help save the Amazon rainforest and its 400 billion dollars-plus sovereign wealth fund has started specifying environmental criteria for the thousands of companies around the globe in which it holds stakes.

He said that some oil and gas producers have spent “a lot of effort” to undermine a planned climate deal, to be worked out in Copenhagen in December and to include painful targets for reducing carbon emissions across the globe.”These countries should fully commit themselves to a Copenhagen deal and use some of the revenues they earn for good purposes,” said Solheim, who also oversees aid to developing countries, which equals about 1 percent of Norwegian GDP.Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, says its oil-dependent economy could suffer from any pact which penalises carbon emissions and wants support to develop alternative energy sources and to earn credits for burying greenhouse gases.Solheim’s top concerns for the Copenhagen talks are that nations will not deliver on pledged emission cuts and that cash to fund environmental initiatives will remain restricted.
“My main worry is more empty promises,” he said.So far pledged emission cuts fall well short of the U.N. minimum plan of 25-40 per cent reductions by 2020, compared to 1990 levels and Solheim said that it would be foolish to believe that Copenhagen will solve all climate issues. “In Copenhagen, there will surely be a lot of work that will be agreed in principle and all the hard negotiating work will follow. It will be one important and positive step forward, but there are more climate conferences ahead,” he said.


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