Norway, the prosperous European country that usually arouses limited interest has a lot to teach when it comes to the idea of sustainable development. In fact, the term itself was coined by the country’s then prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, back in 1987. So what can Norway teach us? A lot, as it turns out.
Norway’s Ambassador to India, H.E. Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, in conversation with Iamrenew:
Norway is not just one of the world’s most prosperous, oil exporting countries. It is also the oil exporting country with the highest domestic fuel rates, thanks to an enlightened policy of discouraging the ‘dirty’ fuel and using the savings generated from taxes for a rainy day. Today, the country’s sovereign wealth fund has over $1 Trillion in assets. A power the country has used responsibly, both to provide for its citizen’s future, as well as to signal changes to the world, by limiting investments into fossil fuel assets, for instance.
By taxing oil profits at a rate as high as 78%, the Norwegian government ensured that the industry did not fall into the trap of lazy extraction and old technologies, continuously pushing them to develop better technology and in turn, became a thriving supplier of oil-related services too.
Norway has also been a big contributor to UN-led efforts to fight climate change, acknowledging the role fossil fuel burning plays in the process and doing more than its bit to help combat it.
The country has been a model of international cooperation, helping manage its fish stocks much better than other regions, by cooperating and working extensively with its neighbours to manage the regions fish stocks. This is the reason why where other regions are seeing depletions and even die-outs, Norwegian fish stocks remain healthy.
While Norway has pledged to cut emissions by 40 percent in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, today, it gets 98 % of its own energy from renewables, mostly Hydropower, where it has been a global pioneer again.
There is a massive focus on electric mobility, and encouraging pedestrian and cycle pathways to reduce energy intensity further.
There are critical economic lessons to be learnt from Norway. By taxing it high, it has avoided the curse of oil, where the commodity frequently distorts the home markets of exporting countries, making other industries uncompetitive by strengthening the currency on the back of high oil exports.