Norway: Some Way to Go

On February 7, 2020 Norway became the first developed country to submit an updated NDC. Similar to the first NDC presented in 2016, the updated version is a concise document that complies with the guidance from 1/CP.21 and 4/CMA.1 decisions, with a strict focus on mitigation.

Our analysis indicates that the updated Norwegian NDC presents improved mitigation targets – emissions reductions from 40% to 50-55% by 2030. However, as one of the most prosperous countries, with revenues largely based on the export of fossil fuels, Norway was expected to be more ambitious on two key aspects: alignment to the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 ̊C and a clear pathway towards fossil fuel phase out.

Norway’s role as a progressive country in fighting climate change is unclear due to mixed political signals. On the one hand, in April 2020 Norway sent a strong political signal to the world with the announcement that its sovereign wealth fund will divest from oil and gas exploration firms ($8bi from 134 companies) and invest more in renewable energy companies. The country is also the biggest funder of REDD+ activities through the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative.

On the other hand, the NDC does not include a figure for domestic emission reductions, which is crucial from an equity standpoint and provides direction for a domestic green transition. Then, in June 2020, a majority in the Norwegian Parliament – Stortinget - agreed to amend the tax regime for the petroleum sector as part of the government’s COVID-19 recovery package, with a massive bailout of oil and gas companies, potentially creating lock-in and devastating consequences for the climate.

Based on WWF’s Checklist for the NDCs We Want and taking into account Norway’s wealth and high levels of emissions, responsibility, and capacity, we conclude that Norway’s NDC has some way to go to become the NDC We Want.