Norway business sees ‘huge opportunity’ in green transition

Three-quarters of the leaders of big Norwegian companies now believe that the transition to a green economy represents a significant business opportunity, a new survey has found.

Norway business sees 'huge opportunity' in green transition
Sverre Overå, project director for Northern Lights, in front of the Northern Lights template. (Photo: Arne Reidar Mortensen)
When the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise polled business leaders ahead of its annual conference next month, 74 percent of those leading companies with more than 100 employees said they saw opportunities in the coming green transformation. 
“Carbon capture and storage is one example. You also see investments in batteries, hydrogen and offshore wind,” the lobby group's chief executive, Ole Almlid, told state broadcaster NRK
“I hope we end up remembering 2020 as the year when Norwegian business and industry finally properly understood the great opportunities that lie in climate change.” 
Almlid said that the coronavirus crisis promised to accelerate the shift, with 30 percent of the European Union's €750 billion coronavirus recovery package going towards European Green Deal projects. 
“The restructuring will go much faster, because it comes after such a crisis, and then it will go much more in the direction of a greener business community,” he said. 
NRK cites the the US aluminium producer Alcoa as a company which could benefit, with Norway well positioned to lead the shift towards zero-carbon aluminium. 
“We have two competitive advantages: We often have low prices for electricity, and we produce clean aluminium. We use renewable electricity from water and wind. The rest of the world mostly uses gas and coal,” said Ole Løfsnæs, who leads the confederation's energy department. 
Alcoa is working on a revolutionary smelting technology which would use renewable electricity rather than coke. 
On December 15th, the Norwegian Government announced its decision to fund the Northern Lights project, which will see 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 stored per year in a depleted gas field in the Northern North Sea. 
Across the border in Sweden, big industry is already pushing ahead, with state-owned iron ore producer LKAB planning to invest 400bn Swedish kronor (€40bn) over the next 15–20 years to switch its entire production from iron ore pellets to hydrogen-reduced sponge iron. 
This would preventing LKAB’s customers from releasing 35m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. 
Together with steel producer SSAB, LKAB aims to set up demonstration plant which by 2026 will produce one million tonnes of zero-carbon sponge iron. 

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France plans 70% ‘supertax’ on fuel for private jets

France is set to dramatically increase taxes on fuel for private jets, as the government rejects a proposal from environmentalist and left-wing senators to ban short flights altogether.

France plans 70% 'supertax' on fuel for private jets

Last year, environmentalist senators proposed a bill planning flights by private jet if the journey can be made by train in less than two-and-a-half hours – bringing private flights into line with commercial ones in France;.

At the same time MPs from the far-left La France Insoumise party, sitting in France’s Assemblée nationale, had filed a bill to ban the use of all private jets in France, calling it “an urgent ecological measure”. 

READ ALSO French politicians step up bids to crack down on private jets

Rather than go down the all-out ban route, the 2023 Budget bill includes provisions for a 70 percent increase in fuel tax for private aviation from 2024, Minister of Transport Clément Beaune told MPs in the Assembly during a debate on the pollution caused by private jets.

And he promised further action may be possible as soon as 2024.

Beaune has made no secret of his opposition to a total or partial ban on private jet flights, despite admitting that some examples – such as football club Paris Saint-Germain using a private flight to Nantes, which is a two-and-a-half-hour train ride from the capital – were “shocking, often out of place, sometimes unacceptable”.

He went on: “I announce to you, we will go further if you agree in the budget for 2024 by proposing that private commercial aviation (…) may be subject to an additional contribution, an eco-contribution revised upwards, which will allow us to precisely take into account these behaviours,” continued the minister.

“The general ban is good for the conscience but does not advance ecological transition in practice,” Beaune said , stressing the “legal obstacles” and the difficulty of defining and controlling exemptions. 

Environmentalists proposed to ban “non-scheduled air transport services of passengers not subject to commercial operation”, as well as non-scheduled public air transport services “in which the number of passengers is less than 60”.

MP Julien Bayou said: “It is the measure that penalises the fewest people but produces the maximum effect for the climate and the atmosphere,” he said.