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Source: Plug'n Drive

When it comes to environmental protection, Norway is usually the first to arrive. About 98 percent of its electricity is generated from hydroelectric plants; it was among the first nations to adopt a carbon tax in 1991; and it was the first country to capture and store CO2 underground.

Now, it has an ambitious new goal in sight: Reducing greenhouse gases to a solid “zero” by the year 2030. That means nothing. Nada. Zip. In other words, emissions in Norway won’t exist.

Norway's zero-emission plan would leave many streets looking like this one in downtown Toronto. Pictured: Electric cars charging at power meters. From farthest to closest, a Nissan Leaf, a Smart ED, and a Mitsubishi i MiEV. (Photo Credit: Plug'n Drive)

Norway’s zero-emission plan would leave many streets looking like this one in downtown Toronto. Pictured: Electric cars charging at power meters. From farthest to closest, a Nissan Leaf, a Smart ED, and a Mitsubishi i MiEV. (Photo Credit: Plug’n Drive)

In response to the Paris Agreement introduced last December, Norway had originally set its goal for 2050, but newfound confidence made the country’s parliament unanimously vote to reset the goal 20 years earlier.

With an objective like this in mind, certain changes will have to be made. For one thing, officials plan to place more electric vehicles onto Norway’s streets and supply “electricity from the national grid to offshore oil and gas platforms to reduce their use of gas turbines.” A ban on all petroleum-based vehicles in Norway has been suggested for 2025, although conservative party members are objecting to its validity.

Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Ministry released a statement explaining, “After 2025 new private cars, buses and light commercial vehicles will be zero-emission vehicles. By 2030, new heavier vans, 75 percent of new long-distance buses, and 50 percent of new trucks will be zero-emission vehicles.”

Stig Schjoelset, who heads a carbon analysis team at Thomson Reuters, further explained that Norway will also “purchase carbon credits abroad, however it’s not clear what kind of credits will be available after 2020.”

Sunset over Norway's capital, Oslo. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Sunset over Norway’s capital, Oslo. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

For having such an attitude of ease, however, Norway has several gaps to bridge. As the Economist points out, Norway pollutes far more than its reputation suggests. Since adopting the carbon tax, greenhouse gas emissions in Norway have actually risen by about 15 percent. These emission hit their peak just last year, when that percentage rose an additional 1.5 percent (equivalent to about 53 million tons of carbon dioxide). Despite its promotion of green energy, Norway is still the fourth-largest exporter of oil.

Norway hopes that its new domestic initiatives will encourage other nations to follow suit. “Somebody has to put on the brakes,” said Rasmus Hansson of the World Wildlife Federation. “If Norway doesn’t, who will?”

Thus far, Norway has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing its public transportation system and creating bike routes in the hopes of weening its citizens off petrol-guzzling cars and related vehicles. The government has strengthened energy efficiency standards for commercial buildings, and the country actively promotes alternatives to fossil fuels such as wood-burning for heat and power.

Even Statkraft, Norway’s largest power company, is getting in on the action with its new “salt power” project. The corporation believes that by tapping into Norway’s saltwater sources, the liquid could be pressurized enough to be used as a turbine to generate electricity.

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