The Norwegian government has pledged that the nation will become the first country in the world to be deforestation-free. In the latest in a pretty strong record for rainforest conservation and protection, the government will now “impose requirements to ensure that public procurements do not contribute to deforestation of the rainforest.”
This means that the parliament will no longer award government contracts to any company that cuts down and destroys forests. Many products that are commonly used around the world are linked to rainforest deforestation, from tropical timber and soy to the palm oil that laces a lot of what we eat. The government will now no longer buy these products. The exact workings of this deal are still to be announced, but it has already been praised by conservation groups.
“This is an important victory in the fight to protect the rainforest. Over the last few years, a number of companies have committed to cease the procurement of goods that can be linked to destruction of the rainforest,” says Nils Hermann Ranum from the Rainforest Foundation Norway, an organization that has worked with the government to make this commitment happen. “Until now, this has not been matched by similar commitments from governments. Thus, it is highly positive that the Norwegian state is now following suit and making the same demands when it comes to public procurements.”
But Rainforest Foundation Norway doesn’t think that things should stop with Norway. They have called on other nations to do the same, specifically the UK and Germany, with whom the Norwegian government made a joint statement at the UN Climate Summit in New York in 2014 on the issue of deforestation. During the conference, the three nations said they want to “promote national commitments that encourage deforestation-free supply chains, including through public procurement policies to sustainably source commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef and timber.” With Norway now committed, they want these other nations to step up to the plate.
While obviously the commitment by Norway to stop contributing to deforestation around the world is a brilliant thing for any nation to do, in reality it does little for the country’s green credentials, considering it is still one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas. Norway has long been exploiting the massive reserves that were found in the North Sea, and has now moved on to those found in the Barents Sea, bordering on the Arctic Circle.
While it is still so heavily reliant on the burning of fossil fuels, it doesn’t really matter if it protects some rainforests as climate change will destroy them anyway. However this, and the recent announcement it wants to sell only electric cars by 2025, is at least a step in the right direction.