FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2022
Response: Norway and the European Commission lock in decades of additional oil and gas production, abandoning climate leadership
Yesterday, the government of Norway and the European Commission released a joint statement (1) on energy cooperation in which the EU officially supported “continued [oil and gas] exploration, new discoveries and field developments” in Norway in order to provide additional oil and gas to the European Union over the long-term. This statement comes on the heels of the publication of the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Investment 2022 report (2) which states that “no one should imagine that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can justify a wave of new large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure in a world that wants to limit global warming to 1.5 C.” Last year, the IEA confirmed that opening up new oil and gas fields was incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C, a key objective under the Paris Agreement (3).
This new announcement marks a departure from the European Commission’s policy from October 2021 (4) to push for “ oil, coal and gas to stay in the ground, including in Arctic regions. Norway is already Europe’s most aggressive oil and gas explorer, having awarded in the past ten years as many exploration licenses (700) as in the period from 1965-2012 (5).
In response, Oil Change International experts released the following statements:
Silje Lundberg, North Sea Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International:
“The Norwegian Government and the oil and gas lobby in Norway have cynically exploited the situation in Europe to force a statement from a crisis-ridden EU Commission. This statement is also in direct conflict with the European Commission’s stated intent to limit the production of Arctic oil and gas. Yet, the Norwegian government is planning on expanding the oil and gas exploration in vulnerable Arctic areas in Norway. If approved, Equinor’s proposed Wisting field could lead to emissions of more than 200 million tons of CO2 and would be the northernmost oil field in the world.
“Norway’s intense lobbying for continued oil and gas use in the EU is not new. In the past, Norwegian politicians have lobbied against ambitious EU policies on energy efficiency, out of fear of lower gas imports from Norway.
“This joint statement truly shows that Norwegian interests are deeply invested in continued oil and gas production, despite limited carbon budgets and its historical responsibility to transition away from oil and gas production.”
Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy Lead at Oil Change International:
“This joint statement makes apparent the moral failure of Europe’s continued reliance on fossil fuels, which has not only made its own citizens vulnerable to unprecedented energy prices but is now also going to continue driving the climate crisis for decades. Barely one day after the International Energy Agency reiterated its warning that building new fossil fuel infrastructure as a result of the Russian war against Ukraine would make limiting warming to 1.5°C impossible, Brussels and Oslo have just decided that the preservation of the European way of life trumps a safe climate.
“The European Union’s failure to decarbonize its economy at the speed and scale required to meet its own climate commitments is now leading to a new dash for oil and gas around the world at a time when the world should be urgently phasing out fossil fuels. Instead of encouraging new exploration in the Norwegian Arctic or locking African countries in an unsustainable, neocolonial economic model, the European Union should focus on drastically reducing its energy consumption, accelerating the deployment of renewable energy and taxing the obscene profits of Big Oil to support its citizens suffering from sky high fossil energy prices.”
- Joint EU-Norway statement on strengthening energy cooperation
- International Energy Agency, World Energy Investment 2022
- International Energy Agency, Net Zero by 2050
- A stronger EU engagement for a greener, peaceful and prosperous Arctic 2021
- Oil Change International, The Aggressive Explorer: How Norway’s Rapid Ramp-up of Oil and Gas Licensing Is Incompatible with Climate Leadership, 2022