Storting representative for the Norwegian Socialist Left Party, Lars Haltbrekken, questions what he calls "Norway's lack of support" for a joint climate statement during the One Planet Polar Summit in Paris recently.
During Wednesday's oral Question Time in the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, Socialist Left representative Lars Haltbrekken questioned what he called "Norway's lack of support" for a joint climate statement during the One Planet Polar Summit.
The conference was organized from November 8th to November 10th as part of the annual Paris Peace Forum and it is the first summit specifically about the polar regions and other areas in which glaciers and sea ice are threatened by global warming. PM Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor) was present for Norway as a leading polar nation and chair of the Arctic Council.
He is now criticized by the opposition for failing to stand behind the summit's joint statement.
"There is no place in the world where the catastrophic climate change is felt as strongly as in the Arctic. Here, we find our most vulnerable ecosystems under major pressure from climate change, and we have overfishing and ocean acidification," said Haltbrekken during Question Time.
The meeting in Paris resulted in a statement called the «Paris Call for the Glaciers and Poles» which 32 countries stood behind. Norway is not on that list.
During the opening, French President Emmanuel Macron said that biological diversity and climate are tomorrow's crises and they are inseparable from the biggest security issues we are facing today.
"We will avoid tomorrow's catastrophes by doing this. Our duty is to not stray from this task," said Macron, according to the French newspaper Le Monde.
During the negotiations around the statement, the countries expressed worries about the rapidly diminishing polar glaciers and announced that 200,000 glaciers are now in a state that cannot be reversed.
Does not know the contents
"What is the reason for Norway not standing behind this statement?" the Socialist Left politician asked Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment Andreas Bjelland Eriksen (Labor).
Eriksen admitted that he did not know the specific contents of the statement.
"Norway is concerned with a safe and sound management of our polar regions. We are constantly working toward that. We take our big sea areas seriously, and we spend a lot of time working on management to ensure that they are looked after wisely," said Eriksen.
He added the government is also using other channels they believe to be right internationally to contribute to an "international, safe management of Norway's sea areas and the responsibility the country has in polar regions."
"A bit strange"
The Minister of Climate also said that the government is currently working on matters that will provide the premise for the management going forward.
Is the reason that Norway wants to start destructive mining activities on the Arctic seabed?
"Both the management plans for our sea areas and the work to protect outside of 12 nautical miles. I look forward to coming back to parliament to discuss them."
Lars Haltbrekken believes it to be "a bit strange" that the Minister of Climate and Environment does not know why Norway did not stand behind an important environmental statement, even if it was the prime minister and not the minister who represented Norway at the meeting.
"Is the reason that Norway wants to start destructive mining activities on the Arctic seabed, in defiance of the environmental councils?" speculated the parliament representative and wanted to know what Eriksen thinks about "Norway standing outside the good company that wants to protect a vulnerable Arctic."
Five parties against
The Energy and Environment Committee at the Storting is currently processing the government's white paper on mineral activities on the Norwegian continental shelf, which was presented in June. The Liberal Party, the Red Party, the Green Party, and the Christian Democrats have asked the government to withdraw the white paper that opens the way for mining on the seabed.
The Minister of Climate says that he does not recognize himself in Lars Haltbrekken's description.
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"We have a leadership role through the Prime Minister's leadership in the ocean panel, to take that as a concrete example. We always promote a knowledge-based precautionary approach when working to develop new industries. Norway has a proud tradition of this. We have achieved that in the vast majority of areas that we have developed," says Andreas Bjelland Eriksen.
He says that Norway has updated the management in line with knowledge-based advice.
"There is a reason why we are listened to," says Eriksen.
"I agree that when we are now working with new industries - in and of itself not only seabed minerals, but also offshore wind, carbon capture, and storage and other areas - we have a great responsibility to show leadership and that we can do it safely and soundly that can be a good example internationally," concludes Minister of Climate and Environment Bjelland Eriksen.
During the climate meeting in Paris, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said that he will soon travel to the climate summit COP28 in Dubai "to show how Norway contributes to keeping the 1.5-degree target alive."
"The fact that global warming is particularly evident in the polar regions is a challenge that concerns all the world's countries. The threat can only be met with strong and rapid global efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere," said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre when he opened the polar summit in Paris.