Norway’s government goes green, keeps Lofoten free of oil drilling
Controversies about possible opening the waters outside Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja in northern is put on halt. The areas will remain off-limits, the three parties in the new, but still minority, government announced on Sunday.
Oil companies have been eager to drill, but opposition is strong, arguing the values of the important fisheries and tourism in the area.
According to WWF, the water off Lofoten is breeding area for 70 percent of all fish caught in Norwegian waters in the north.
Estimates by the Ministry of Oil and Energy claims Lofoten to hold 1,3 billion barrels of oil equivalent. The industry says the value of the oil could represent as much as $65 billion.
Politically, Norway’s government goes from being blue-blue to become blue-green. “The [political] platform paves the way for how we can manage to create a sustainable welfare society and a safer Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a press conference. She represents the Conservative Party that has been in power together with the Progress Party since 2013.
It is not yet clear which possible minister posts the Liberal Party will get in the broadened government.
Additional to pushing the oil industry away from the pristine waters near Lofoten archipelago, no drilling will either take place near Jan Mayen in the Norwegian Sea or near the ice-edge in the northern Barents Sea, the agreed political platform reads.
Another green bullet point in the political platform secures tax exemptions for electric vehicles for as long as the government is in office. That aims at pushing even further sales of electric cars, a race where Norway already is an undisputedly world leader. Last year, half of all new cars sold were either full electric or hybrid powered.
Public transport should be fossil free by 2025, the agreement says.
Regarding Policy of the North, the government’s platform continues with current priorities, focused on keeping the north an area of low tension, international cooperation, sustainable harvesting of marine resources and huge focus on climate changes.
In the sub-chapter Foreign Policy, the government assures that nuclear safety cooperation with Russia regarding clean up on the Kola Peninsula will continue. The Barents cooperation as such is not mentioned in the new governmental agreement.
The government says it will initiate a Scandinavia railway study in cooperation with Sweden and Denmark. A possible railway link from Finland to northern Norway is not mentioned.