Sustainability Committee: “Nordic production of oil and gas must be reduced in the long run”

30.06.22 | News
parlamentariker på båt bland isberg
Anna Rosenberg
Against the backdrop of the shrinking Greenland ice sheet, the Nordic Sustainability Committee met in Ilulissat to adopt a position on several proposals with a bearing on the climate crisis. The committee began the sensitive discussion on reducing the production of fossil fuels in the Nordic Region in the long term. It wants to see strategic co-operation in the capturing and sequestering of carbon dioxide.

Greenland is one of the areas in the world where the effects of climate change are most evident.

For Greenlandic parliamentarian and vice chair of the Nordic Council’s Sustainability Committee Pipaluk Lynge-Rasmussen, it is important that colleagues from the other Nordic countries get to see the impact with their own eyes. 

Hoping for courageous decisions

“Ilulissat is at the epicentre of the melting ice sheet, and here we are now holding a meeting that is almost exclusively about the climate crisis. I hope it leads to courageous decisions,” said Lynge-Rasmussen.

The agenda included a proposal from the Centre Group on a common Nordic willingness to phase out the production of fossil fuels, and a call to the countries to join the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance. 

Reduced production must also be discussed

After an intensive debate, the committee agreed to at least try to put reduced Nordic production of oil and gas on the Nordic political agenda. 

“Although we in the Nordic countries agree to stop consuming fossil fuels, for the first time we now want to discuss how production should be reduced. We have very different starting points in the Nordic Region, with Norway as one of the world’s major producers,” said Norwegian parliamentarian Ola Elvestuen, who continued:

“Countries around the world are planning to produce twice the quantity of fossil fuels than the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target allows, according to the UN and UNEP. We must take this very seriously.”  

Develop carbon storage

The committee will also continue to work on a proposal from the Conservative Group to make the Nordic Region a leader in capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide.

This relates to the development of CCS technology (carbon capture and storage) which absorbs carbon dioxide “at the chimney” in large industries, power plants, and other areas. With CCS, the carbon dioxide is separated, compressed, and transported to a storage site.

Not co-operating well enough

“Although all the Nordic countries are working intensively with this individually, we don’t co-operate well enough. If we seize this opportunity, we could create new jobs in the green transition,” said Norwegian parliamentarian Lene Westgaard-Halle.

In practice, the decision means that a report will be prepared with a concrete roadmap that the committee can take a position on later.   

Living conditions are changing in Greenland

The parliamentarians in the Sustainability Committee had the opportunity to see the Iulissat ice fjord, which is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and also met Illulisat’s mayor, Palle Jeremiassen.

He talked about how the conditions for the vital fishing industry and hunting are changing as the sea ice becomes thinner.

Tourism industry becoming climate-neutral

Climate change is affecting both animals and humans, and the tourism industry also needs to adapt.

“We live off of nature and can clearly notice climate change, and so we also have a responsibility to mitigate climate change ourselves. We’re now switching to hydropower and we’re making our tourism industry climate-neutral and environmentally friendly. I hope that Nordic co-operation can be inspired by Greenland’s strategy and allow us to be involved in shaping policy,” said Jeremiassen.