Norwegian Government Implements Carbon Tax on Emissions due to Acid Rain

In the early 1970s researchers began studying the impact of acid rainfall on spruce forests in Norway. They concluded that Norway spruce ecosystems were heavily affected by increases in acid rain due to the growing industrialization. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Norway’s largest industrial sectors, hydropower and energy-intensive industries, entered a period of rapid expansion which dramatically increased the levels of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. But harmful substances also originated from English and German industries, blown over with the wind in raindrops and snowflakes. Realizing the potential for acid rainfall and the dangers of air pollution, the government levied a carbon tax on fossil fuels and related products. In January 1991 Norway’s market-based carbon tax was established to promote the substitution of fuel products and to encourage research and development in energy efficient fuel sources, and to decrease the damages caused by acid rain. The carbon tax contributed to a cut down on carbon emissions by 14% within a decade, other factors were the reduction of process emissions and energy intensity, as well as energy mix changes. They all coincided with a decrease in the deterioration of Norway spruce from acid rain damage.

Contributed by Patrick R. Kelly
Course: Global Environmental History
Instructor: Andrew Stuhl, Ph.D.
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, US

Further Readings: 
  • Midttun, Atle. "The Negotiated Political Economy of a Heavy Industrial Sector: the Norwegian Hydropower Complex in the 1970s and 1980s." Scandinavian Political Studies 11, no. 2 (1988): 115–44.
  • Jonard, Mathieu, Arnaud Legout, Manuel Nicolas, Etienne Dambrine, Claude Nys, Erwin Ulrich, Raphaele Perre, and Quentin Ponette. "Deterioration of Norway Spruce Vitality Despite a Sharp Decline in Acid Deposition: a Long-Term Integrated Perspective." Global Change Biology 18, no. 2 (2012): 711–25.
  • Lin, B, and X Li. "The Effect of Carbon Tax on Per Capita Co"2 Emissions." Energy Policy. 39, no. 9 (2011): 5137–46.