1.4 per cent for a cooler planet

(10.09.2009) On the eve of the Norwegian national elections, climate researchers at NTNU and SINTEF have issued a challenge to lawmakers to support essential investments to meet the country's goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions-- and that will put Norway at the forefront of climate change research and technology development.


For just 1.4 per cent of the national budget, which is 2000 NOK per Norwegian citizen per year -- or a little more than $300 US -- Norway could build on its already substantial expertise in renewable energy technology and carbon capture and storage to help lead the global effort to combat climate change. So says Rector Torbjørn Digernes, who with SINTEF executive director Unni Steinsmo, has issued a challenge to all politicians seeking election to the Norwegian Storting, or parliament, on September 14.

"We believe that knowledge and technology together are the key to solving the climate problem, both in terms of how we as a society adapt to a changing climate and how we reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions" Digernes and Steinsmo say. "Our proposal will place Norway in an international leadership role in controlling climate change and will showcase the nation’s technological expertise and industries that are critical to addressing this global problem."

Ten billion kroner per year
As Norway's leading university for science and engineering, NTNU is already home to a wide range of climate related research, much of which is conducted in conjunction with SINTEF, Scandinavia's largest independent research institute.

But with just 3 billion NOK per year, Norway could expand its R&D efforts in everything from offshore wind power, to solar cell technology and bioenergy from sustainable sources.

Another 7 billion NOK per year would enable the country to phase out the use of oil for heating purposes, transform fully 20 per cent of the country's vehicle fleet and 25 per cent of offshore facilities to electric power, capture carbon dioxide from six of the country's largest manufacturing facilities, and implement wide scale comprehensive energy efficiency measures in buildings and industry.

Norway as a catalyst to international action
Digernes and Steinsmo say this kind of financial backing will do more than bring Norway into compliance with its ambitious climate goals of being climate neutral by 2050 at the latest. The size of the commitment will enable Norway to act as a catalyst, to spur other countries to take on the climate challenge, the two say.

"With a commitment such as this, Norway's role in controlling global emissions will be far larger than the direct reductions we will achieve nationally" Digernes and Steinsmo say.

For more information:
Olav Bolland