OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian government proposes spending 3.6 billion Norwegian crowns ($369 million) on investments to make its economy greener as it gradually emerges from coronavirus lockdowns, the government said on Friday.
“The crisis we are now in hasn’t made the need for transformation smaller - it has increased it,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.
While a half-century of oil and gas production has made Norway one of the world’s wealthiest nations, the country aims to transition into a less oil-dependent economy and make more room for other, especially greener, industries to grow.
The centre-right minority government of oil and gas producing Norway now faces negotiations with opposition parties on the contents of the package.
Some 2 billion crowns will be distributed by Enova, a state agency supporting companies’ efforts to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, while 1 billion crowns will go to science projects, the government said in a whitepaper.
The government has further raised its projected 2020 spending from the country’s sovereign wealth fund by 5 billion crowns to 424.6 billion crowns compared to its previous forecast published on May 12.
Hydrogen power solutions, battery technology, ocean windfarms and efforts to cut pollution from the shipping industry are among the potential beneficiaries.
“A temporary reduction in emissions as a consequence of lower activity doesn’t change the long-term challenge,” the government said in the policy document.
The whitepaper is the third major initiative by the government to boost the economy following a March 12 lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Norway in recent weeks lifted many coronavirus restrictions and will allow some cross-border business travel from June 1.
Reporting by Terje Solsvik, Victoria Klesty and Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Chizu Nomiyama
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