January 31, 2023

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- Norway got it wrong, says climate minister - E24

– Norway got it wrong, says climate minister – E24

This week, United Nations nations are meeting at the Nature Summit in Montreal where agreement can be reached on more nature protection. Researchers say cottage development should first stop.

Cabin field in Norefjell with high standard cabins. Inlandt and Viken are the counties where the most new permits have been granted. The bulk of the planned areas is located in the mountains, near the forest border.
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In 2021, a record number of building permits were granted for new cabins in Norway.

Among other things, this worries researchers at the Cicero Center for Climate Research, who point out that there is no record of the number of cabins that Norwegian nature can tolerate.

Nature is declining, with negative consequences for biodiversity and carbon storage. Again, cross-country traffic has something to say about emissions and further downsizing. There will be spinning effects, says social geographer Anders Tønnesen.

It is supported by Nature Director Carlo Alla at Vestlandsforskning. He believes that restricting cottage development should be the first priority if more of nature is to be protected.

– As Al says: It’s also what hurts him least.

Up to 1 million cabins

There are about 450,000 cabins in Norway. The number of cabins has increased steadily over the past decade.

The cabins have also become larger. In 2010, the average area was 96.4 square metres. In 2021, the average is 105.3.

to me The Norwegian Institute for Natural Research (Nina) is an area equivalent to 200,000 football fields dedicated to the construction of cabins, allowing room to double the number of cabins we have today.

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Senior researcher Carlo Al at Vestlandsforskning.

– Are you worried about this?

– Yes, for two reasons. The first is the destruction of nature, and the other is more symbolic. We make a fuss about biodiversity loss, but the politicians keep allowing cabins to be built. Al says the connection is hard to understand.

He thinks that most people would be willing to build fewer bungalows if politicians decided to do so.

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– Nature must get a price

This week, Climate and Environment Minister Espen Barth Eide is attending the Nature Summit in Montreal, Canada, under the auspices of the United Nations. There an international agreement is expected to be reached on 30 percent of nature conservation.

It could have a lot to say about how Norway will manage nature in the years to come.

Norway is wrong. We have allowed too much destruction of nature. Cabin development and roads are the worst when it comes to losing nature, Eddie tells E24.

The Minister of Climate and Environment believes that Norway has allowed too much natural loss. He cautions against reducing road and cabin development in the future.

– It should be tightened here. He adds that nature must get a price.

Transportation and land use are worse

Nature director Carlo Alla has worked for a long time with issues related to outdoor life and the environment. He thinks the climate minister should replace “we” with “I” when he says Norway is wrong.

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– The state can be very cruel in terms of business, but organizing our leisure time is scary. It’s strange, because losing our jobs is so much worse than not being able to build a cabin, he says.

– What do we know about the natural and climatic footprint of cottage development?

Transportation to and from the cabin has the greatest impact on climate and energy calculations. Al says the place where the cabin is placed and the road there make up the biggest natural footprint.

In Norefjell, similar cabins were built in a row. Average cabin size has gone from 96.4 square meters in 2010 to 105.3 square meters in 2021.

– Why was this not at the top of the agenda, for example with regard to wind energy development, in your opinion?

– The mini cabin is much smaller than a windmill. It is more gradual and it takes ten years before you see a shanty field. The problem has gone under the radar with regard to wind power, but home fields are destroying more than windmills, he says.

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– He can no longer do everything

The government has begun work to create a nature account. Valuable nature must be protected, and what can be demolished must receive a price.

When you put a realistic price on the loss of nature, financial valuations will be different. We have to think creatively and in new ways, says Eddie.

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– Municipalities should have the opportunity to choose between battery factories or home fields, but you can no longer do everything, he says.

In addition, transportation policy should be tightened. Priority should be given to improving existing roads over new ones.

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The accord of nature gives hope

The agreement on 30 percent nature conservation gives researchers hope.

– I’m excited. The link between climate and nature has been highlighted in recent years. I think there’s a greater awareness of this now, Tonnesen says.

Social geographer Anders Tonesen conducts research at the Cicero Center for Climate Research and holds a PhD from the University of Oslo.

There are also many solutions that can limit development.

– One could envision more use of co-op cabins, sharing and rental arrangements. You can also give a little thought to how your new home fields will be built. Should you have a hundred square meter cottage, or a one meter plot with roads leading to every house? Cabins on stilts also help protect nature from encroachment.

But first and foremost, cabin development must be regulated at the national level, Tönnessen and Al point out. Today, many permits pass through municipalities, and there economy and jobs are often weighted ahead of nature.

At the same time, Aall points out, cabins aren’t primarily a luxury.

– Hytte-Norge has the power to teach us to live a slower life. But it is important, for example, that you do not have access to electricity and water.

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