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. Norway Decries EU Protectionism On Carbon Dioxide Quotas

"We think that would give greater reductions in emissions, it would help curb poverty and it would also make it easier to get countries like Brazil and India on board an international climate deal," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said. "I don't think the EU has thought through the (offset) cap very well."
by Staff Writers
Oslo (AFP) June 27, 2007
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday accused the European Union of "protectionism" for limiting the amount of offset carbon dioxide emission quotas that can be bought from developing countries. "The EU wants most of the offset quota purchases to be made within the EU," Stoltenberg told the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, adding that the policy qualified as "protectionism".

Norway last week unveiled what it called the "most ambitious" plan in the world to combat climate change, detailing its goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2020 and becoming "carbon neutral" by 2050.

Under the plan, between half and two-thirds of the reductions will be made on Norwegian territory, with the remainder of the cuts compensated for with so-called "offsets", or investments in Kyoto Protocol-style projects that reduce pollution in other countries.

But under an EU directive that is to enter into force in January 2008, Brussels plans to cap at 10 percent the share of greenhouse gas reductions that a country can achieve by buying offset quotas abroad.

Norway is not a member of the European Union but as a member of the European Economic Area is subject to numerous EU directives, including those on climate policy.

Stoltenberg said earlier this week that Oslo planned to ask the EU for an exemption to the directive.

"We have been clear since we began work on our climate policy that Norway should be allowed to introduce measures to limit emissions in developing countries," he said.

"We think that would give greater reductions in emissions, it would help curb poverty and it would also make it easier to get countries like Brazil and India on board an international climate deal," he said.

"I don't think the EU has thought through the (offset) cap very well," he added.

Among the measures included in Norway's plan to become carbon neutral are a ban on oil-burning stoves and a pledge to increase biofuel use by seven percent before 2010.

Also up for consideration are a quota system for the transport industry, subsidies for green energy providers, a reforestation programme, tolls for city drivers, and a ban on throwing away recyclable goods.

Norway -- the world's third-largest exporter of oil and natural gas, both fossil fuels deemed to be among the main causes of global warming -- already covers almost all of its electricity needs with "clean energy" from hydropower.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Swiss Climate Warms Twice As Fast As Northern Hemisphere
Geneva (AFP) June 26, 2007
Switzerland's climate has warmed twice as fast as the average for the northern hemisphere since the 1970s, a Swiss public research institute said Tuesday. The Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research said in a study that temperatures in Switzerland increased by an average of 0.57 degrees Celsius per decade over the past 30 years, compared to an average 0.25-degree hike for the entire northern hemisphere.

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