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Norway aims to be carbon neutral by 2030
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  • OSLO, Jan 17 (AFP) Jan 17, 2008
    Norway's government said Thursday the country would dramatically slash its carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 and aim to be completely carbon neutral by 2030 -- 20 years ahead of schedule.

    "The climate agreement gives Norway a long-term climate policy that will stand regardless of changing governments," Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement issued after his centre-left government and three large opposition parties agreed on new emission targets.

    The parties agreed on what the government said was a "realistic" goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by between 15 and 17 million tonnes by 2020, with some three million tonnes of the CO2 expected to be absorbed by Norwegian forests.

    About two-thirds of that reduction would be implemented on Norwegian territory while the remaining cuts would be achieved through international emission trading systems, they said.

    Norway, which emitted nearly 54 million tonnes of CO2 in 2006, should become a so-called zero-emission state by 2030, according to the statement.

    The Scandinavian country, which is not a European Union member, previously aimed to slash emissions by between 13 and 16 million tonnes over the next 12 years and become carbon neutral by 2050.

    Even with its massive national effort, the country will most likely remain a net polluter by 2030, which means it will have to achieve the zero goal by "offsets" -- investing in Kyoto Protocol-style projects that reduce pollution in other countries.

    The government will earmark an extra 70 million kroner (12.9 million dollars, 8.8 million euros) this year to research on renewable energy and the handling of CO2. Another 300 million kroner will be set aside next year and "at least" 600 million kroner will go to such research in 2010, according to the new agreement.

    Reached after weeks of negotiation, the Norwegian climate deal also calls for a 10-oere (0.02 dollars, 0.01 euros) hike in the tax on diesel fuel and a five-oere increase in the tax on petrol.

    "We have challenging work ahead of us. That's why it is important that we have a broad climate agreement in which the parties agree that climate policy must be a political priority," Environment Minister Erik Solheim said in a separate statement.

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