The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Norway:
- Energy efficiency
Norway is one of the key frontrunners when it comes to sustainability. The countries have implemented policies which improve energy-efficiency and facilitate sustainable consumption and production within Norway. Norway’s electricity system is predominantly emissions-free, and the country has the highest share of electric vehicle sales in the world. Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, which provides substantial funding to nations with large areas of tropical forest to prevent deforestation, and the country’s generous donations to the Green Climate Fund, which finances mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. However, the Norwegian paradox is that its leadership in some aspects of addressing the global climate emergency is enabled by wealth generated by a large petroleum industry (David Boyd, 2019). Greenhouse gas emissions from this sector are well above 1990 levels and exploration for additional oil and gas continues in Norway, despite clear evidence that human society cannot burn existing reserves of oil, gas and coal while meeting the targets established in the Paris Agreement.
Despite Norway’s achievements in various areas, there are important challenges that need to be addressed. The main challenge is to improve completion rates in post-compulsory education and especially in upper secondary. With only about 72 % of students completing their studies after five years compared to the OECD average of 87 %, several initiatives have been taken to address the problem of dropping out, which is particularly a problem among boys. A large action-oriented research programme has been established.
- Income inequality
The majority of the Norwegian population has a high standard of living. Norway is among the countries with the smallest income inequalities. However, a minority of the population has a persistently low income. In the three-year period 2012–2014, 9% of the population had an average income is lower than 60% of the median income. All sections of the population have benefited from a rise in incomes and standards of living. When poverty is measured as low income in relation to an increasing overall income level, a minority will lag behind due to a corresponding increase in the low-income threshold. The relative standing of the Nordic countries in terms of their distributions of wealth is not so egalitarian, however. Data show that Sweden has higher wealth inequality than France, Germany, Japan and the UK, but lower wealth inequality than the US. Norway is more equal, with wealth inequality exceeding Japan but lower than France, Germany, UK and US.
In four years, the proportion of poor in Norway increased from 7.7 per cent to 9.3 per cent. Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) presents “Poverty and living conditions in Norway” report. The results in the report worry NAV, writes Klassekampen. The report shows that in particular three factors are worrying. According to the EU poverty line (those who earn less than 60 percent of the median income), the proportion of poor in Norway has risen from 7.7 percent to 9.3 percent four years later. Around 17.5 per cent of all children in Oslo live in households that have low income, and people with immigrant background account for 43 per cent of all the poor. This proportion has increased steadily. Especially the 18-34 age group is the most vulnerable group, 14 percent of which are poor. Recent tax regulations by the right wing government in favor of the rich and the low employment skills among the risk groups are some of the potential reasons for this negative trend.
- Gender Pay Gap
The gender pay gap among full-time employees in Norway remains at 20%. After adjusting for age, education, sector and several other factors, there is still a 13% gender difference. Those are some of the figures from the Norwegian Work Research Institute’s 2019 barometer measuring joint decision-making. The barometer is published annually in cooperation with six trade unions, to show how much say employees have in the workplace, and how they see their own working situations. The barometer looks at a representative selection from the working population. A total of 3,049 people took part in this year’s survey. They were asked about their 2017 gross earnings. The average annual wage for full-time employed men was 711,000 kroner (€ 74,160). For women it was only 582,000 kroner (€60,700). There is also a difference between how much influence the respondents felt they had over their own work situation. 47% of the men said they had a lot of influence, while 42% of the women said the same. When asked whether they felt they could control how they organised their own work, the difference was considerably larger. While 63% of the men put themselves on 4 to 5 on a scale to five, where 1 was no influence at all and 5 was a lot of influence, only 45% of the women did the same.