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Norway signs up to EU greenhouse gas targets

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(OSLO) - Norway announced Wednesday plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 as the oil-rich country aligns itself with targets set by the European Union.

"Norway should become a low-emission society," conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg told reporters.

In addition to slashing emissions, the Nordic country -- which is not an EU member -- intends to join forces and coordinate climate policies with the bloc ahead of global talks hosted by the United Nations in December.

Details of the new approach were not disclosed but Norway will reduce emissions through a mix of domestic cuts and by purchasing emissions credits on the European carbon-trading market.

Half of Norwegian emissions already fall under the current European quota system while reductions in sectors that do not -- such as agriculture and transport -- will have to be agreed with Brussels, the government said.

The Scandinavian country -- whose riches come from oil exploration in the North Sea -- will give up emissions trading with developing countries outside of Europe. Critics say it is a cheap but ineffective way of mitigating climate change.

Norway said it would continue to help those countries' climate efforts through development aid, funding for the preservation of tropical forests and contributions to the UN's Green Climate Fund.

Several environmental groups welcomed the commitments -- including the closer ties with the EU -- while others lamented the lack of details on how emissions will be cut.

"Norway has not met its objectives for a long time," the organisation Future in our Hands (FIVH) said in a statement.

"The EU has a better record with its (emissions) cuts. Perhaps this could set a good framework for Norway?"

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