Norway is set to become the first country in the entire world to ban the use of gas to heat buildings.
The Scandinavian country, which is the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East, will wholly stop the use of both oil and paraffin to warm buildings from 2020 onwards.
The country, which hopes to ban the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars by 2025, has made a concerted effort to introduce policies which shrink domestic emission of greenhouse gases.
Vidar Helgesenlaid, the nation’s Environment Minister, laid out the plans in a statement, saying: “Those using fossil oil for heating must find other options by 2020.”
The country advises its citizens to research alternatives to oil such as heat pumps, hydroelectricity, and even special stoves that burn wood chips. By some stage, the legislation could be widened to include restrictions on using natural gas to heat buildings.
The Ministry of Climate and Environment said the ban would apply to both new and old buildings and cover both private homes and the public space of businesses and state-owned facilities.
The ministry says the plans are expected to lessen Norway's emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by an estimated 340,000 tonnes per year, compared to overall national emissions of 53.9 million tonnes in 2015.
Marius Holm, head of ZERO, a foundation that campaigns hard for cuts in emissions, celebrated the unprecedented policy change, saying: “This is a very important climate measure that significantly cuts emissions, sending a powerful signal that we are moving from fossil to renewable energy.”
Green organisations argue the fossil ban is something of a contradiction in terms given the country, which paradoxically is both an oil giant and a climate leader, gets half its export revenues from crude oil and natural gas.
Nevertheless, the new measure could pave way for other countries to follow suit as the building sector is a massive CO2 emitter. In the US, it accounts for 39 per cent of CO2 emissions.
Norway, which is widely seen to be becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries worldwide, became the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation last year.
The Norwegian parliament promised the government’s public procurement policy will become deforestation-free after a committee of MPs recommended imposing regulations to ensure the state did "not contribute to deforestation of the rainforest".
Norway funds forest conservation projects worldwide and also supports human rights programmes for forest communities.
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