Over the years, Norway has established itself as a leader of green initiatives. Now, the Scandinavian country is proving its commitment to the environment once again by establishing the world’s first emission-free zone at sea.
Norway’s parliament adopted a resolution that would require all vessels, ships, and liners entering their world heritage fjords to produce zero carbon emissions. The ban is set to be enforced “as soon as technically possible,” but will go into full effect in 2026.
This is a major step for Norway, which receives hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting the country’s 1,160 fjords every year. Officials believe the resolution will not only benefit the environment, but support the health of the tourists and local communities.
“For the first time in the world there is a requirement for emission-free sailing in the fjords and their harbors,” said Marius Holm, head of the environmental foundation ZERO. “Norway has long been a world leader in emission-free ferries based on sound political decisions on zero-emission requirements. Now the country is taking a step further in the maritime green shift that has global repercussions. At the national level, this will mean a welcome development towards emission-free solutions on many tourist ships, a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and a halt to harmful local air pollution.”
Environmentalists are applauding the initiative, which is a welcome follow-up to the Norwegian Parliament’s decision in 2015 to require all ferries in new tenders to be equipped with zero or low-emission technology. Hege Økland, CEO of the maritime industrial cluster NCE Maritime CleanTech, commented on this when she said: “Norway has become a world-leading maritime supplier of low- and zero-emissions solutions. The decision on zero-emission fjords can secure our industry’s position in this area, so that Norwegian business will be strengthened and we can provide green solutions also to the rest of the world.”
Given the pace at which Norway is transitioning to a clean energy economy, it is possible the switch to zero emission sailing technology will take place much sooner than 2026. “Tourists come to see pure nature, not fjords full of exhaust. Norway also has an international responsibility to manage its world heritage sites. We have long been seeking concrete action, and are therefore very pleased with this decision on emissions-free fjords,” said Katrin Blomvik, director of the Geiranger Fjord World Heritage Foundation.
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