Norway to study shift from oil to tackle climate risks: minister

FILE PHOTO: Norway's Minister of Climate and Environment Vidar Helgesen signs the Paris Agreement on climate change at United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 22, 2016 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will study ways to make its economy greener and reduce dependence on oil and gas reserves that are likely to lose value amid efforts to slow climate change, Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen said on Thursday.

A government commission of experts, to be appointed in coming days, will examine the nation’s green competitiveness and ways to insulate western Europe’s biggest oil and gas exporter from financial risks linked to climate change.

“Given the energy and transport revolutions, fossil energy resources will be of less value over time,” Helgesen told Reuters.

“The energy transition to renewables is going faster than anyone thought. And almost any scenario is being out-competed by reality,” he said, adding that the commission would report back in about a year’s time.

Oslo says it has made big strides, for example in battery technology for shipping, including coastal ferries. But it needs to look for new businesses based on emerging technologies, from fisheries to digitalization.

Norway is far from its goals under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Emissions were 3.3 percent above 1990 levels in 2016.

Helgesen said that Norway was “fairly well” placed to handle economic and financial risks compared to other countries because of a $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, built on revenues from oil and gas.

Reporting By Alister Doyle