04 Julio 2017 15:34
Norway will become the first country to completely ban the use of oil and paraffin gas to heat buildings by 2020, in an unprecedented step towards tackling climate change. No buildings, old or new, public or private, will be given exemption from the new legislation.
The prohibition of oil is estimated to cut the country's harmful emissions by 340,000 tonnes per year, according to the Ministry of Climate and Environment. Vidar Helgesenlaid, Norway's environment minister, has taken an uncompromising stance on the issue, saying: 'Those using fossil oil for heating must find other options by 2020.'
As one of the largest producers of oil and gas outside of the Middle East, with a total of 53.9 million tonnes emitted each year, Norway's decision can be hailed as a small victory in the battle to save our planet. Helgesenlaid's ambitions for a greener future are reflected in other policy decisions as well, including an end to diesel and gasoline cars by 2025 and his strong opposition to deforestation.
However, while such efforts are welcomed, even celebrated, is it enough? Donald Trump's election to the most powerful seat in the world has sent shockwaves around the world for environmental campaigners, activists and scientists. His claims that climate change is a 'hoax' fabricated by China and that the economy takes precedence over the planet serve as a serious blow to international environmental efforts.
Even the UK government has made little or no headway in minimising the island´s carbon footprint and continues to pour vast amounts of cash into oil companies and car firms. Although sustainable alternatives such as heat pumps, hydroelectricity, biomass boilers, and geothermal energy are all now viable options, money seems to be the decision maker.
And the same is true for Norway. The sale of oil and natural gas accounts for 22 per cent of the country's GDP, with a colossal 14.9 million tonnes of petroleum extracted and sold every year. A move to ban fossil fuel for heating is an admirable policy decision, but ecologist organisations have called on the Norwegian government to do more, particularly as 93 new licenses were issued to oil companies extracting in the Arctic Circle just a few weeks ago.