Norwegians seek local energy alternatives

Local Agenda 21 programme hopes for an extension citing successful projects

Norwegian local authorities have been urged to intensify their search for alternative energy sources with the aim of reducing fossil fuel consumption. The challenge was outlined by Norway's State Pollution Control Authority (SFT) at a meeting in the south coast city of Kristiansand last Thursday and Friday. More use should be made of biomass, solar and wind power, the agency said, as well as putting more emphasis on energy-saving measures.

The seven municipalities at the meeting were participants in the 18-month-old "Bærekraftige lokalsamfunn" (Sustainable Local Communities) project, which also focuses on "green" purchase and supply policies, sustainable business development and public transport. A broad spectrum of Norwegian municipalities are involved, from the major cities of Kristiansand and Stavanger to tiny rural communities.

Sustainable Local Communities is a spin-off of Local Agenda 21 and was given recent impetus by the innovative white paper on sustainable development published in June. The white paper sought to create a "green nation" including a requirement for the environment to be considered in every public sector activity (ENDS Daily 11 June).

Elisabet Molander, SFT project coordinator, told ENDS Daily today that the Kristiansand meeting had adjourned with high hopes that the local communities project, originally funded for two years, might continue for at least another year.

Ms Molander cited Stavanger, centre of Norway's oil industry, as one of the project's more enthusiastic participants. Successful schemes there have included a new housing development incorporating heat pumps and publication of a "green guide" to purchasing office supplies.

Kristiansand has set up an environmental audit programme under which 15 local businesses have been audited to date, and three have been awarded "environmental certificates". For a fee, the city also shows other local authorities how to do it.

In the small settlement of Røros (also known as Bergstaden), a former mining centre close by the Swedish border which has been designated a World Heritage site, 150 "green families" have been enlisted in a series of initiatives that include composting, energy-efficient home improvements and establishment of a local barter system for goods and services. On transport, however, the record is "not so good," Ms. Molander concedes.

Follow Up:
SFT, tel: +47 22 57 34 00.

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