Norwegian government backs fossil fuels over climate change in COVID-19 package

Posted on 08 June 2020

Statement by Karoline Anduar, CEO at WWF-Norway: 

Oslo (8 June, 2020) - Today, a majority of political parties in the Norwegian Parliament agreed to amend the oil tax regime as part of the government’s COVID-19 recovery package - with potentially devastating consequences for the climate crisis.

This is happening at a time when the latest science shows that we have to reduce global emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and get to net-zero global emissions by 2050. 

The new tax regime is likely to keep Norway locked into the oil era longer than under a more neutral tax regime. This decision could very well increase and extend activity into vulnerable territories in the Arctic, already suffering devastating impacts from climate change.

WWF has long been critical of the Norwegian oil tax system for being too liberal, with Norwegian economists saying the decision will provoke heavy investment in oil fields that would otherwise be unprofitable. Oil companies will cover only 9.6% of the investment costs through these tax breaks for projects approved, until 2023, while taxpayers shoulder a much higher risk burden.

Norway’s credibility as a global climate leader is shot. Their leaders have shown us that they are willing to lock us into a fossil fuel future, without regard to the catastrophic consequences for the planet, for nature and for people.



  • The decision today was taken by the Parliamentary Finance Committee. Their recommendation will go to a full sitting of Parliament for approval on 12 June. It is unlikely that there will be any changes to the recommendation put forward by the Committee as 6 out of 9 political parties in the Parliament approved of the decision.
  • The tax benefits will apply to all investment decisions approved by the end of 2023. 
  • While many oil projects were already profitable with today’s oil price and therefore - WWF believes -  in no need of extra tax breaks. One exception is the Wisting oilfield in the Barents Sea, 300 kilometres from Norway's northern coast. The field is located far away from existing infrastructure and has a break-even cost of 50 USD/bbl. By making this project profitable, the new rules are likely to increase the pressure for more oil and gas exploration and production in the ecologically sensitive Barents Sea.

For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods

Oil rig in Norway.
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