The way up North

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Rahul Gandhi visiting one of Marine Harvest's fish farms in Bergen.

Arctic, climate change, energy, sustainable transport, innovation, fish farming and marine resources management, the welfare state, the state pension fund and global politics. In a space of a week, opposition leader and Indian National Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi visited the Norwegian cities Tromsø, Bergen and Oslo to explore and discuss these topics.

Every year the Norwegian Embassy invites a couple of Indian politicians, both from government parties and the opposition, to Norway. The aim is to strengthen political contact and relations between Norway and India. The participants are introduced to a wide range of what Norway has to offer through meetings with business leaders, politicians and civil servants.

Starting in Tromsø, also known as the gateway to the Arctic, Rahul Gandhi was introduced to the significance of the Arctic influencing global climate. The developments in the Arctic are among the most visible examples of climate change, and India is among 9 countries which have established their own research center at the Svalbard island in Northern Norway.  It is also a strong scientific cooperation between Indian and Norwegian researchers on climate change, Arctic and the Antarctic with a number of joint projects ongoing. Institutions such as KSAT and the Norwegian Polar Institute provides monitoring data and research to the Norwegian government to ensure sustainable development in the Arctic.

From Tromsø the trip headed to Oslo where Gandhi met with leaders from both government and opposition. International issues of common interest and concern where discussed as well as the welfare state and green climate policies. The meetings included also a discussion with Yngve Slyngstad, CEO of the Norwegian Global Pension Fund, the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund. The Fund has presently invested around USD 10 billion in India.

Oslo was recently named Europe’s Green Capital 2019. Sustainable transport is a central part of Norway’s environmental policies.. Norway is the country with the largest electric vehicle ownership per capita in the world, and also a leading country in developing and introducing green technologies for ships. Learning about the green success, Mr. Gandhi met representatives from members of the Oslo Renewable Energy and Environment Cluster (OREEC). He was introduced to emission free transport services and solutions available. Norway’s “green success” story regarding electric vehicles is founded on large incentives. The Government has indicated that all new cars sold by 2025 should be zero or low emission vehicles. 

Bergen, the last city Gandhi visited, also known as OceanCity, is on the western coast of Norway and world leading city for marine education, research and innovation. With an extensive coastline, Norway manages some of the world’s richest fishing resources. Valued at 11 billion dollars last year, Norway is the second largest exporter of seafood after China. 

The development of commercial aquaculture in Norway began around 1970 and has developed into a major industry in coastal areas. Intensive farming of Atlantic salmon is by far the most important activity, accounting for more than 80 percent of the total Norwegian aquaculture production. Bergen is home to Marine Harvest, one of the largest seafood companies in the world and the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon. Mr. Gandhi visited one of their fish farms and was able to see first-hand the way Atlantic salmon is farmed off the coast of Bergen.

In order to learn about the key to Norway’s management of its marine resources, Mr. Gandhi also met with the Institute of Marine Research. They are Norway’s leading experts on fisheries and aquaculture. It is tasked to advise the Norwegian authorities on aquaculture and the ecosystems of the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the North Sea and the Norwegian coastal zone.  

Before ending a very busy week, Gandhi visited the world’s largest facility for testing and improving CO2 capture at Technology Centre Mongstad outside Bergen. At Mongstad, Gandhi learned about how CO2 emissions are captured and transported from power plants and heavy industries to safe storage far below the earth surface. Norwegian research and technology has played a great part in ensuring that carbon capture, transport and storage (CCS) can be used on a large scale and contributed one of the most critical global climate initiatives. Norway is currently on track to be the first country to establish a full CCS value chain in Europe by 2022.

Norway with its gas and oil resources and hydropower production is one of the world’s largest energy exporters. Wind power, off shore wind power and wave power are also sectors with a huge potential to grow in the coming years. Norway is an energy power and a global advocate for sustainable energy, committed to environmental sustainability and climate policy.

Visit to Technology Centre Mongstad.

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