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NORTHERN LIGHTS

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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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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