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Norway Unveils Carbon Dioxide Quota Plans

Emissions must be kept under 81% of 2005 level.

The Norwegian government unveiled proposals for cutting carbon dioxide emissions between 2008 and 2012 last week. Under the plan, most businesses must keep their emissions under 81% of the 2005 level. Any firms that break the limit would have to buy the right to do so on the emissions trading market.

"This plan offers a more effective climate policy than the EU quota policy of today," Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen said as she unveiled the plans.

EU leaders were meeting in Brussels last week to try and get agreement to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20% by 2020, from 1990 levels. Norway is not a member of the union but negotiates with Brussels under the European Economic Area agreement.

There would be exceptions to Norway's proposals. One is the offshore energy sector, a key industry for Norway which is a major exporter of both oil and gas. Offshore firms will have to buy permits for all their carbon dioxide emissions.

This rule will also apply to all new companies established after 2005.

The measures have been broadly welcomed by Norwegian industry and some ecological pressure groups. The government's proposals will now go to parliament, which is expected to debate the issue later this spring.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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