Theater of Cruelty

Green bluff

The authorities' emission allowance regulation of CO2 emissions has no effect.


[19. May 2006] The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority presented the happy news on its websites a month ago: "Companies subject to quota duty emitted four per cent less CO2 in 2005". The system of quotas came into force on 1 January 2005 and was intended to force Norwegian companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The companies were allocated quotas of 95 per cent of what they released the year before, and the intention was, of course, that CO2 emissions should be reduced by five per cent. Companies that failed to do so should be fined at a price of 40 euros per tonne. The then Minister of the Environment Knut Arild Hareide cheered on the pioneering country Norway. Current Environment Minister Helen Bjørnøy wants Norway to be included in the EU's quota directive next year. In line with the objectives of the Kyoto agreement, emissions of hazardous greenhouse gases shall be reduced to a minimum.

But the preliminary experience from the quota systems is neither green nor beautiful. If you look closely at the figures from the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT), you will find that only technical formalities are hiding behind the so-called reduced emissions from last year. What looks so good on paper is in fact an unchanged emission from most companies. Although the companies emit more than their allocated 95 per cent quota, none of them have had to pay any fines for the proposed 40 euros per tonne. Instead, companies have embarked on the black green market. On Friday, a week ago, they could buy redundant quotas on the European market at just nine euros per tonne. Thus, quota regulation has not led to smaller emissions, but a new and lucrative market.

It is good that the government wants to control environmentally hostile activities in its own country. But it is a waste of time and money to organize a system that does not work. The quota regulation has so far proved completely meaningless and completely without effect. It is not green, but blue-eyed.

You may also like