Thursday, March 16, 2006

A query from ‘not so green’ Norway

by Dewa

Before I visit and study in Norway, I was being well informed about how “green” Norway is. Friends said that there are a lot of environmental-analyst around the world studied and earned degree from various universities in this country. And in the first month I inhaled Norway’s air as well as the Norwegian approach of environmental economic course, most of that claimed has been proven undoubtedly.

From my point of view, the natural habit of each Norwegian has initially shown this “green” policy. For example, Norwegian have very systematic activities related with hunting animal management for both endanger animal and the usual one, or ‘kommune’ (community or district) based garbage and sewage systems, or attention on renewable energy such as water and wind energy resource. Particularly energy resources, the Norwegian have a strong will to utilize their nature for energy supplier in a friendly way as they ‘discount rate’ on environment inter-generational cost-benefit is quite low. In other words, they are willing to pay more of better environment quality now for future generation.

Meanwhile, that is not a whole perfect story. “Norway actually not so green at all”, that is what Aftenposten reported based on EEA (EU’s environmental agency) assessment. The article said that Norway unleases more carbon dioxide emissions per resident than the European average. Also, Norwegian consumed more energy per capita than the European as well. Although regarding the energy high consumption obviously it has been affected by extreme cold climate that requires a lot of energy to keep the population well.

The interesting part of this EEA’s reports is the report admitted that Norway somehow able to balance those high ‘abuse’ on environment and energy. For example, even though Norwegians generate and throw out more garbage on a per capita basis compare to their European counterparts but their recycling programs is one of the most efficient in Europe and even has more participation among citizen than European citizen counterpart. The same analogy also working for hydropower that supply high electricity consumption with a strict water (including river, rain, and snow related) management to maintain the production capacity as well as the natural conservation.

There are some other natural resource policy and management that apply in Norway. Why it seems that the ‘not so green’ Norway tried to find equilibrium between “to pollute and to conserve”? How actually to conduct such policies? What endowment needed to be able to succeed in this issue?

Since Norway is one of the riches countries, you might say that money is the key, don’t you? Fortunately, I saw that community based approach is the main key in this matter. Despite of ample of money support, the success of environmental policy in Norway is seen on individual/market active participation and local community involvement in designing the policy.

I am still wondering how this mechanism seems working well while in developing countries the “state versus market role” issues still dominating the argument. Why it is so damned hard to cooperate or combine those two parties in the third world??

3 comments:

berly said...

First, we need to ask why Norwegian have higher CO2 (garbage) per capita. Is it measure correctly?

Is it more on production side (norwegian factories produce more CO2/use more packing)? If yes, which sectors is the highest emiters? How much is the contribution of these sector(s) in the economy?

Or is it in the consumption side? Does Norwegian buy more SUV (packed stuff) than average Europeans because of their rugged terain? Or their style of cooking used more energy (warm everything cause its colder)? Or more because they used more energy in heating houses ?

And why they recycle (conserve nature) more? Is it more of exogenous preference? Or they feel guilty about poluting than EU average thus trying to make amend?

You tell me...

embun said...

No.1, regarding measurement I have no clue at all since it was stated by the newspaper here. However, regarding polution, from production side it is as much as especially from oil sector and heavy industries, i.e. aluminium and other metal processing. Those sectors believes as main contributor of CO2 from Norway. About contribution, the sector is the main contributor from industry sector category.

From consumption side, mainly from resident heater (include wood burning) and usage of cars for daily travel in the outskirt of Oslo city (it include also farming mechanization equipment such as tractors). On garbage, the Norwegian consumed prepared food more often and its package/plastics is one of the main contributor for recycle issue.

Now, on the last question. I am not sure about exogenous preference. That is why I am asking it because I couldn't find any literature that talk in detail about such policies.

And, there is also not mention about Norwegian concern related with EU people (that's why Norway never join EU) since most of Norwegian believe that they have their own uniqueness. As far as I heard and read, Norwegian do not really give any concern with EU behavior or approach. But, as I observed, community institution (kommune) have a very strong role on applying environmental policy. I need more time and opportunity to know more about this institutional economics role in Norway.

Sorry for not satifying the curiosity...

Anonymous said...

my 2cent..
i think the reason for number 4 is cost. simply because it is more costly for norwegian to manage the garbage by landfilling system. recycle in one hand is costly indeed but the products and employment that result from the recycle processing will reduce the cost.

number 1:
economist kind of question :)
i dont think there will be something like 'the correct way' in measuring C02.

and about developing countries.
i still believe that environment issues is nothing but subversive (Adams, 2001). it takes a strong political approach for developing countries to put environment (or ecology)as its priority in development. without having politicians understand this issue, nothing is going to change.

phs