Norway as a Global Leader in the Green Economy
Norway is famous for its natural beauty and stunning, dramatic landscapes. From the arctic lights to the islands of Lofoten, the country attracts outdoor types and eco-tourists from all over the globe. But what is Norway doing to protect these natural treasures? As we grow more concerned with our impact on the environment, it’s important to know that our favourite travel destinations are making a difference in the fight against climate change.
Fortunately, Norway is a global leader in the green economy – in fact, it’s been crowned the “world’s most sustainable country”. Three years ago, the Norwegian government announced an ambitious plan to become carbon-neutral by 2050. The country is on track to reach this target even sooner with the help of revolutionary technology and a national push to limit its carbon footprint. Let’s take a look at which industries Norway is making greener and safer in a bid to protect the environment, and the future of sustainable tourism in the country.
For years Norway has been almost entirely powered by hydroelectricity, one of the cleanest sources of renewable energy. Blessed with a precipitous climate, high elevation, and countless pristine bodies of water, the Scandinavian nation has built hundreds of dams and hydropower stations to provide for most of their electrical needs. In fact, Norway’s strategy has been so successful that it is currently working on exporting electricity to other countries in Europe — making it the “green battery” for the rest of the continent!
The magical fjords of Norway have become an increasingly popular tourist destination in recent years, leading to concerns about the impact of the industry on local marine life. In response, the Norwegian parliament has passed a law that only emission-free fjord tour ferries will be allowed to travel the fjords of West Norway (where most of the UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Aurlandsfjord can be found). This would make the fjords the world’s first emission-free marine zone! For the time being, local companies are already testing diesel-electric hybrid ferries as well as a brand new electric vessel.
Norway has announced plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2025, sooner than any other developed country in the world. But this type of change doesn’t happen overnight, which is why the country has been championing the electric car for decades. Over 50% of cars sold in Norway are electric, with an additional 27 percent being plug-in hybrid models (PHEV). This has been partly achieved by the government’s introduction of incentives for electric car drivers, including zero road tax and discounted parking. Say goodbye to those smelly exhaust fumes – it’s all about that fresh mountain air in Norway!
The car isn’t the only form of transport that Norway is making more sustainable. Siemens and Rolls Royce are working with Avinor, the proprietor company behind Norway’s airports, to make the world’s first electric-fuel hybrid aircraft commercially available in the next few years. The country’s long-term plan is to make all short-haul flights electric by 2040. This would mean that all domestic flights and trips to other Scandinavian countries could be made without burning fossil fuels. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll be able to fly between your favourite Norwegian destinations at no cost to the environment.
The cities of the world are growing dramatically, but this rapid expansion comes at a cost. According to climate scientists, construction accounts for roughly 39% of greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, Norway is currently blazing the trail towards a greener and more sustainable construction industry, with zero-emission construction sites and energy-efficient buildings. The public sector has pushed to eliminate carbon-intensive materials like steel and use natural resources instead. Don’t believe us? Check out Brumunddal’s Mjøstårnet — at 18-storeys, it’s the world’s tallest building made entirely from timber!
Recycling and reusing
The people of Norway are big believers in the value of recycling. Their state-of-the-art system has allowed the country to recycle up to 97% of its plastic bottle waste. That’s more than three times the rate of such countries as the United Kingdom and the United States. How do they do it? It all comes down to the “pant”. Modelled on the loan scheme, the “pant” system adds a small fee – usually about 1 - 2.5 NOK, depending on the size – to the purchase of any plastic bottle or aluminium can. When the consumer has finished using the container, they can return it via machines found in every supermarket. In exchange, they receive tokens that can be used to buy groceries or donate to charity.
Carbon capture and storage
It’s widely understood that one of the best ways to restrict our carbon footprint is through the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS). This process relies on groundbreaking technology to extract carbon before it enters the atmosphere, therefore reducing its impact on the climate. As one of the world’s greenest economies, Norway has launched the full-scale carbon capture project Longship. This task force is in the process of building the first carbon capture facility in a cement plant in Brevik, which will capture up to 400,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions every year.
Norway’s government is focused on striving to secure a greener future for us all, and eco-friendly travel is important to many travellers. If you’d like to experience everything Norway has to offer in a sustainable way, why not try our family-friendly Norway in a Nutshell® tour? Fjord Tours is a certified Eco-Lighthouse (Miljøfyrtårn) company, and we would love to help you create your dream holiday to Norway in an environmentally-friendly way!