No Regrets With CO2 "Moon Landing" Plan: Norway PM
Author: Alister Doyle
Norway's Prime Minister reaffirmed commitment on Tuesday to plans to capture and bury greenhouse gases despite delays and rising costs, saying he had no regrets about once likening Oslo's ambitions to a "Moon landing."
Jens Stoltenberg said Norway was investing heavily in technology to capture carbon dioxide emitted by power plants burning fossil fuels as part of a plan to combat climate change.
"I don't regret it," he says in a book launched on Tuesday, "Climate Paradox," when asked about a 2007 New Year speech in which he said carbon capture and storage would be Norway's equivalent of a "Moon landing" to curb global warming.
Since then, key elements of the plan have been delayed and costs have risen both in Norway and abroad, dampening hopes for quick technological breakthroughs.
The International Energy Agency said in a report in June that leading industrialized nations were failing to meet a pledge, made in 2008, to get 20 carbon capture demonstration projects up and running by 2010.
Stoltenberg told Reuters that Norway was pushing ahead with a six billion crown ($1.02 billion) center to research carbon capture at the Mongstad refinery on the west coast with Statoil, Shell and Sasol.
The center is half built. Under the original plan, a stage two at Mongstad, of full-scale capture of 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from a gas-fired power plant, was due to start in 2014.
"I am of course sorry that we had to delay stage two," he said. "But we are working on that, using considerable sums." Costs are well above original budgets.
"We are still estimating how much full-scale capture will cost," he said, adding that estimates were likely to be ready in 2014. Among other projects, Norway is cooperating with China on capturing carbon.
The entire Apollo programme that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon in 1969 cost the United States $170 billion in 2005 prices, according to the U.S. figures.
Norway, the fifth biggest oil exporter, does not lack money. A state fund saving oil cash abroad surpassed 3.0 trillion crowns ($511.6 billion) for the first time on Tuesday.
But Stoltenberg said Norway could not spend limitless amounts. "We must do things in a way so that the costs allow other nations to do it too," he said. Norway's 2011 budget includes 2.7 billion crowns for carbon capture and storage.
Stoltenberg's book also outlines twin challenges of ending poverty and halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in a world with a rising population.
"I can well understand that China and India want to increase their emissions. Their economic growth is lifting millions from poverty," he said of the book, based on interviews given to Norwegian journalist Kjetil Alstadheim.
"Our task is to cooperate with them so that their growth is greener," he said. The world population is set to rise to 9 billion by 2050 from 6.8 billion now, making it hard to halve global emissions by 2050 as Stoltenberg favors.