German-Norwegian Zero-Emission Forum
Ladies and gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be here at the Nordic Embassies Complex in Berlin to address today’s Zero Emission Forum.
Both personally, and in my capacity as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, I take a great interest in the environment, green technologies and innovation – not least in the transport sector. Actually, I got my first electric car in 2003. It was a black Think, actually made in Norway. It was very small, and I could get to the office and back when the car was new - and in the summer time.
Think cars are no longer being produced, but the need to think about our common future has never been greater.
The pace and scope of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions are deeply worrying. We are facing a serious global challenge:
How can we both decarbonise the global economy in the years to come and ensure that we have reliable and affordable energy sources and transport solutions?
The Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are our two main road maps. If we are to meet the targets they set out, we must all pull together. Governments need to create incentives, scientists and technology experts need to innovate – and the business sector needs to identify and grasp new opportunities.
Norway differs greatly from most other countries when it comes to energy production. Almost all of our electricity production comes from renewable sources, in particular from hydroelectric power generation.
However, our total energy consumption also consists of non-renewable sources. We still have some way to go to before we fulfil our commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 40 % by 2030. Since most of our electricity production is already renewable, the majority of our emissions reductions need to be in the transport sector, and our ambition is to halve emissions from the transport sector by 2030.
Since the 1990s, Norway has placed particular emphasis on encouraging the transition to electric cars. To provide incentives for this transition, plug-in electric cars have been exempted from import tax, value-added tax and road tolls, and people driving electric cars have been allowed to park for free and have had free access to most public transport lanes.
This has led to a dramatic increase in the sale of electric vehicles. Norway now has approximately 200 000 electric cars, which is equivalent to around 7 % of our total passenger car fleet. No other country in the world has more electric vehicles per capita.
Nearly 50 % of the new passenger cars sold during the first quarter of this year were fully electric. About a third of them were German cars. Our goal is that by 2025, all new cars sold should be zero-emission vehicles.
Norway also has a zero-emission policy for the maritime sector. Today, all new car ferries are required to have zero or low-emission technology. By 2022, around 70 new electric ferries will connect communities along our coast. An estimated two-thirds of our car ferries will be electric by 2030.
There is also considerable potential for electrification of the fisheries fleet, aquaculture and parts of the offshore sector.
We have already built the world’s first fully electric ferry and the world’s first all-electric commercial fishing vessel. An electric container ship will soon be ready for launch, and the first hydrogen-powered ferry will be operational in 2021.
This means that Norway is on the way to become a low-emission society by 2050.
Norway has extensive experience both as a producer of renewable energy and as producer of oil and gas. This experience has provided the basis for the development of a strong Norwegian energy industry. Our energy industry can play an important role in enabling the transition to a greener economy.
Some of the key personnel involved in constructing the NordLink cable to Germany, the first direct power interconnector between Norway and Germany, have previously worked in the oil and gas sector, where they gained important skills. Equipment and technology from the oil and gas sector is being used in the construction of offshore wind parks.
Norway’s oil and gas production is subject to strict environmental legislation, and its emissions are lower than the global average.
Norwegian natural gas could also play an important role in many European countries’ energy transition. Gas can be used to reduce CO2 emissions in several ways. It can be used to replace coal, or can serve as a flexible and reliable back-up for intermittent renewable sources, for example when there is not enough sun or wind.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Germany also has very ambitious emissions targets, but some of the challenges it faces differ from those faced by Norway. However, there are certain similarities, as well as common interests and many opportunities.
I am particularly pleased to note that German and Norwegian companies and research institutions are already cooperating closely on building a greener economy.
One example is the Arkona wind farm outside Rügen, which was officially opened last month by E.ON and Equinor – and which will provide thousands of German households with renewable energy.
Another is NordLink, which in a couple of years will make renewable Norwegian energy directly available to German consumers.
A third example is the world’s first electric ferry, Ampere, built in Norway with German battery technology.
And to give a fourth example, Siemens recently opened one of the world’s most advanced factories for the production of battery modules for the marine and offshore market in Trondheim, Norway. This factory uses renewable hydropower and advanced technological expertise from both Germany and Norway.
My hope is that the future will bring more German-Norwegian partnerships of this kind. Together, we can make major strides towards achieving the green shift. Today’s Zero Emission Forum is a small, but significant step along the way.