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Sustainable Development in South and Central Norway

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Another main policy area discussed in the Norwegian SD Strategy includes ‘The Climate, The Ozone Layer and Long Transports of Air Pollution’. Much of the economic activity in Norway is based on the use of its natural resource base. Its abundant energy resources support growing exports of oil and gas and a range of high-energy industries. Fisheries and related industries are the backbone of coastal settlements, and forestry contributes to rural work in South and Central Norway. There has long been a high level of awareness of domestic and international environmental issues, and Norway is exposed to air and coastal water pollution from other countries’ emissions. As a result of these factors, Norway has developed a significant international environmental role. The challenge of achieving sustainable development depends largely on the achievement of Norway’s economic and environmental goals through the integration of environmental, sectoral and economic policies and an effective combination of economic, regulatory and other policy instruments.

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Norway has implemented a very successful international policy aimed at multilateral resolution of air pollution problems, such as acid deposition, and has been active within the Nordic Council, the OECD and the UN-ECE in creating scientific and political entities to gather the necessary information and draw appropriate conclusions and recommendations. Norway’s atmospheric emissions are mainly concentrated in the use of oil in transport, industry and buildings, as well as in the production of offshore oil and gas. This concentration, together with Norway’s national emission goals, poses a challenge to Norway’s air management policy. In some aspects of air management, satisfactory results were achieved with the support of a range of economic and regulatory tools: substantial reductions in emissions of SO2 and toxic substances such as lead, and the achievement of international and national targets for reducing emissions of SO2. However, acid deposition in Norway has not declined significantly, and increased measures are needed in Europe to reduce SO2 pollution.

Norway exports much of the energy it produces with significant oil, gas and hydro resources. There are a range of environmental issues with the use of these resources, along with those related to Norway’s own energy use. Achieving the goals of Norway’s energy and environmental policies requires a balance between developing energy resources that contribute to economic growth and protecting the environment. While Norway is active in the international debate on energy-related environmental goals, the challenge is considerable in reducing domestic energy-related emissions. Norway has adopted a preliminary objective of stabilizing CO2 emissions by 2000 in 1989 and carbon taxation affecting a wide range of energy products and end-use sectors. The ability for another use of regulatory instruments for environmental protection is being examined, and further possibilities to improve the integration of environmental and energy policies are being developed in the Climate Change Action Plan.

Although Norway is a small country, it has a considerable international environmental role. Norway has fostered and adopted an unprecedented sequence of bilateral and multilateral cooperative environmental protection agreements, backed by high-quality scientific and engineering expertise in national laboratories and at international meetings. Norway has effectively endorsed the development of international environmental law and the endorsement of many important declarations of environmental policy. Norway was not only an international pioneer in promoting sustainable development, it also made efforts to integrate environmental and economic policies at the national level. 

Progress towards sustainable development has been made by: the adoption of specific objectives relating to sustainable development and the search for the most cost-effective ways of achieving them; the introduction of many environmentally motivated taxes and other economic instruments and a comprehensive review of the potential future role of economic instruments.

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