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The road system both best and worst in class

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration has the largest climate footprint in the state sector, according to a new report. The follow-up of environmental requirements for subcontractors is too poor, forecasts say.


In December, Difi released a report on the climate footprint in the state administration. With a few sectors except, state consumption accounted for nearly 100 billion and 2,4 million tons of CO2 equivalents. Of this, the Public Roads Administration came out with responsibility for around 30 percent. “The reason why the road system stands out is that they make major acquisitions within the categories that contribute a lot to carbon emissions, such as construction and civil engineering. It is therefore natural that they contribute most to CO2 emissions, ”says Marit Holter-Sørensen, division manager in Difi.

Too poor follow-up. Ny Tid has been in contact with a source who believes that the follow-up of the subcontractors on the Norwegian Public Roads Administration's contracts is too poor, and that this is detrimental to the environment. The source, who has worked in a company with many operating contracts for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, explains that there was often a lack of documentation on the fulfillment of environmental requirements from subcontractors, and that these were not supervised: "There was a culture in the company that indicated that it was It's good that subcontractors cheated with environmental requirements, because there was never any control over it, "the source explains.

Bettina Sandvin, department director at the Norwegian Road Directorate, explains that the Norwegian Public Roads Administration usually places environmental requirements as conditions in the contracts. “We follow it up by demanding reporting and documentation from the contractors, and by conducting random checks. In 2016, a total of 106 checks were carried out on 216 operating contracts, ”she says. How many of the controls that specifically met the environmental requirements cannot be said, Sandvin said. However, she confirms that price is the most important – or even the only – award criterion for most contracts, and that the Road Administration has the potential to take more steps to safeguard the environment than it is today.

Solutions of the future. Although the Norwegian Public Roads Administration is responsible for the largest emissions in the state administration, they have also achieved what is referred to as the most important climate procurement in recent years: the electric ferry «MS Ampere». Edvard Sandvik, specialist responsible for ferries in the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, tells how repeated announcements with emphasis on price did not have any particular environmental effect. Therefore, a so-called development contract was announced, so that the Norwegian Public Roads Administration could help take some of the risk and burden by working out a more environmentally friendly solution. «The goal of the competition was to create a showcase for the environmentally and energy-friendly ferry of the future. We had a goal of achieving a minimum of 15-20 percent more energy and environmental efficiency, "says Sandvik. The result was a ferry with 80-90 percent less CO2 emissions, and zero NOX emissions. The technological development that took place through the acquisition of "MS Ampere", has also led to new announcements and contracts that will reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to 70 cars.


The operation of the "MS Ampere" is also expected to be cheaper than a traditional diesel ferry. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that it would have been selected in a regular tender round. "If we had been offered a battery ferry in a normal tender competition, we would most likely have rejected the offer due to excessive risk," says Sandvin.

"There was a culture in the company that implied that it was okay for subcontractors to cheat with environmental requirements."

Marit Vea, advisor in ZERO, believes that the Norwegian Public Roads Administration did everything right in the acquisition of "MS Ampere". The technology "MS Ampere" uses did not exist in the whole world, it was something completely new. It shows that you can achieve a lot when a large player is willing to participate and share some risk with the suppliers. On the large innovative procurements, it is important that the state helps with risk mitigation. It needs support from the authorities for the business community to jump into it and try something big, "says Vea.

Tori Aarseth
Tori Aarseth
Aarseth is a political scientist and a regular journalist at Ny Tid.

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