The green revolution of the Norwegian fjords

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Last year, 300 000 cruise passengers visited Geirangerfjorden in Norway. This fjord will soon become emission-free. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The fjords of Norway will soon experience a historic green shift: The Norwegian parliament has passed a resolution to make its fjords emission-free by 2026.

The coastline of Norway is known to be remarkably beautiful, and the narrow fjords and dramatic mountains attracts travelers from all over the world. The tourism boom of Norway has also been a boom for the cruise ship industry, and Norwegian fjords are kept busy by ferries and ships all year round. Last year, more than 300 000 tourists visited Geirangerfjorden, which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Although this is in many ways a positive trend, several places along Norway’s coastline are threatened by the growing traffic at sea.

In a time when environment-friendly policies are in dire need, the Norwegian parliament has decided to reduce the carbon footprint of Norway’s fjords drastically. The fjords will become zero-emission zones as soon as possible, and no later than 2026. In practice, this means that ferries and cruise ships will go electric.

Norway is the first country in the world aiming to make its fjords emission-free, and the new resolution reflects Norway’s position as world-leading in maritime green solutions. The leader of the environmental foundation ZERO, Marius Holm, is happy about the decision: “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”.

Reduction of emissions along the coastline is not entirely new in Norway. The world’s first electric-powered ferry entered the Norwegian fjords in 2015. The Embassy recently wrote that the Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten will convert nine of its ships to hybrid gas and battery power. Hopefully, as a result of the new resolution, the rest of the maritime industry will follow suit in the years to come.