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Ambition gap

What is Norwayʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

1.5°C compatible pathways

Norway’s strengthened 2030 target aims to reduce GHG emissions by at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030 (52% below 1990 levels excl. LULUCF).1 In absolute terms this is a reduction from 51 MtCO₂e/yr in 1990 to 25 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030. A 60% reduction below 1990 levels is the median reduction in our derived range of pathways and is aligned with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature target.

Under current policies, Norway is projected to fall well short of achieving its 2030 emissions reduction target.2 This does not include the impact of the government’s recently released white paper outlining its climate action plan. It is currently not clear whether the policies contained in this plan are sufficient to achieve a 55% reduction below 1990 levels.

With regards to the LULUCF sector, Norway is committed to ensure that emissions do not exceed removals from the sector.1

Long term pathway

Norway’s NDC aims for a transformation towards a “low-emission society”, which has been quantified by the government as an 90-95% reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels.2 This is in line with Paris Agreement compatible pathways showing emissions reductions of 92% below 1990 levels by 2050.28

All scenarios show low levels of negative emissions technologies, mainly due to Norway’s very low carbon power sector. Harder to abate residual emissions from agriculture and the energy sector in 2050 could instead be addressed through a continuation of afforestation and reforestation efforts.

Heavy ongoing investment into industrial carbon capture and storage reflects Norway’s strategy for decarbonising its fossil fuel extraction and processing sector and other heavy industries.2 However, commercial viability of this technology has remained elusive for many years suggesting rather a multi-faceted approach to achieving net zero emissions may be necessary in order to reach the emission reduction goals. Such alternatives could include afforestation, direct air capture, or enhanced weathering, among others.

1 Norwegian Government. Update of Norway’s nationally determined contribution. 1–16 (2020).

2 Norwegian Environmental Agency. Norway’s Fourth Biennial Report. (2020).

3 Energy Facts Norway. Electricity Production.(2021).

4 Climate Action Tracker. Country Summary: Norway. (2021).

5 Statistics Norway. Emissions to air. (2021).

6 Norwegian Government. Norway’s long-term low-emission strategy for 2050. (2020).

7 Gavenas, E., Rosendahl, K. E. & Skjerpen, T. CO2 emissions from Norwegian oil and gas extraction. (2015).

8 IEA. World Energy Balances 2019 . (2020).

9 Klesty, V. Electric cars rise to record 54% market share in Norway in 2020. Reuters. (2021).

10 Norsk elbilforening. Electric Car Stock. (2021).

11 Norwegian Government. Norway’s comprehensive climate action plan. (2021).

12 Buli, N. & Adomaitis, N. Norway’s plans to raise carbon tax draw oil industry ire. Reuters. (2021).

13 Norsk elbilforening. Norwegian EV policy. (2021).

14 Avinor. Avinor and Norwegian aviation 2018. (2018).

15 Brown, M. Norway Just Mandated Zero-Emission Fjords to Lead Electric Boat Charge | Inverse. (2018).

16 Reuters. Oil producer Norway bans use of heating oil in buildings. (2017).

17 Government of Norway. 2021 Common Reporting Format (CRF) Table. (2021).

18 EHPA. Online Stats Tool. European Heat Pump Association. (2021).

19 Brekke, T., Isachsen, O. & Marton, I. Implementation of the EPBD Norway: Status in 2020. (2020).

20 Norwegian Petroleum. Production Forecasts. (2022)..

21 Solsvik, T. Norway plans to expand Arctic oil and gas drilling in new licensing round. Reuters .(2022).

22 Kurmayer, N. J. Germany, Norway agree tentative plan to build hydrogen pipeline link. Euractiv. (2022).

23 Klesty, V. Electric cars hit 65% of Norway sales as Tesla grabs overall pole. Reuters. (2022)..

24 Ferris, N. Weekly data: Why Norway leads the world for electric vehicles. Energy Monitor. (2022).

25 Holland, M. Norway Above 86% Plugin EV Share In February, Ioniq 5 Leads. CleanTechnica. (2022).

26 Government of Norway. Norway’s comprehensive climate action plan. (2021).

27 Government of Norway. National Transport Plan 2022–2033. (2021).

28 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

29 Year of full decarbonisation is based on carbon intensity threshold of 5gCO₂/MJ.

Methodology

Norwayʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
−150%−100%−50%0%19902010203020502070
Net zero GHG excl. LULUCF*
2066
Reference year
1990
1.5°C emissions level
−60%
NDC (unconditional)
−52%
Ambition gap
−8%
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
2030 emissions levels
Current policy projections
NDC (unconditional)
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 1990
51MtCO₂e/yr

Energy system transformation

Given their high share in final energy use, Norway’s energy and manufacturing industries, and transport sector would need to contribute the largest emissions reduction in Norway to be consistent with a 1.5˚C compatible pathway. This would require the share of fossil fuels in the primary energy mix to decrease from 54% share in 2017 to 25% by 2030 and less than 10% by 2050.

Norway’s very low carbon power sector means that switching to electric vehicles has an outsized impact on reducing emissions compared to most countries. The world-leading 2025 goal to achieve 100% zero emission passenger vehicle sales needs to be supplemented with strong measures to decarbonise remaining forms of transport beyond those addressed in its recent climate action plan.11,13

Norway’s heavy investment in industrial carbon capture and storage, a technology that has not yet proven its commercial viability, could be supplemented with policies to catalyse the uptake of other zero carbon technologies as a way to ensure a timely industrial decarbonisation. The proposed tripling of Norway’s carbon tax is a promising attempt to rein in oil and gas sector emissions, but this would require a plan to ensure the sector reaches net zero emissions.

Methodology

Norwayʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

Scaling
SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
Low Energy Demand
20192030204020501 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020501 000
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS

Norwayʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

−200204019902010203020502070
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible emissions benchmarks

Key emissions benchmarks of Paris compatible Pathways for Norway. The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways from the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile and middle of the range are provided here. Relative reductions are provided based on the reference year.

Reference year
Indicator
1990
Reference year
2019
2030
2040
2050
Year of net zero GHG
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
51
50
21
18 to 26
7
3 to 13
4
−6 to 6
2066
2044
Relative to reference year in %
−60%
−65 to −50%
−86%
−93 to −74%
−92%
−112 to −89%
Total CO₂
MtCO₂/yr
35
42
18
15 to 22
4
1 to 10
0
−8 to 4
2052
2042 to 2064
Relative to reference year in %
−50%
−58 to −38%
−89%
−96 to −72%
−99%
−123 to −90%

Footnotes