Aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050 but silent on wind

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Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is proposing the country become "climate neutral" by 2050. Stoltenberg's coalition government gave no indication that wind power would play an increased role in that goal. Nonetheless, the announcement is being viewed positively. "In some longer term view this is probably good news for wind," says Marius Gjerset from Norway's non-profit Zero Emission Resource Organisation (ZERO). "But Stoltenberg's statement is just the target -- there is no new policy for how to reach the target." Stoltenberg hinted in statements made at his Labour Party's annual congress last month that Norway would buy emissions offsets to meet both its obligations for emissions reduction under the Kyoto Protocol and the 2050 goal to be climate neutral. Norway's greenhouse gas emissions rose to 54 million tonnes in most recent 2005 numbers -- an 8% increase since the 1990 benchmark. Stoltenberg promises that Norway will "sharpen efforts" and achieve reductions 10% below Kyoto obligations by 2012, then lower net emissions 30% by 2030 and finally to a zero net by 2050. Norway's wind industry has languished domestically since a meagre EUR 0.009/kWh subsidy for renewable generation was announced in the autumn to replace capital grants for wind projects of up to 25%. ZERO's Gjerset says Stoltenberg has little motivation to achieve domestic emission targets through increased wind production when most of Norway's electricity is already produced by hydropower. Thus new wind has little effect on actual emissions, which are mainly produced by Norway's large offshore gas industry, as well as by transport and other fossil fuel burning. Instead, setting the climate goal and buying offsets abroad both meets emissions targets and gains international respect for Norway, Gjerset says. Norwegian power developer Vardar recently signed a letter of intent to build a 50 MW wind plant in southwest China's Hubei province, with tentative plans for two other wind developments in China and a total investment of approximately NOK 1 billion (EUR 123 million).

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