18:30 GMT16 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Several ministers of the new Norwegian government have defended the increase of oil exploration and drilling in the country's northern regions during the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromso amid constant pressure from environmentalists, the EUobserver online newspaper reported Tuesday.

    "We must do what we think is right and not react to global finger-pointing. I could ask other countries why they still use fossil fuels, but that would only be a chicken-and-egg discussion. We want to be a leader in renewable solutions and we will decrease our own emissions by 50 percent by 2030. We will make the transition with the help of companies in the oil- and gas industry already involved in developing low emission solutions," Ola Elvestuen, Norway's Minister for Climate and Environment said during the conference on Monday, as quoted by the EUobserver online newspaper.

    The proposed decline in oil and gas production would also force the country to replace jobs in the petroleum industry, which employs 200,000 people, Elvestuen said.

    READ MORE: Star Power: DiCaprio Attacks Norwegian Government Over Oil Exploration

    During the conference, Norway's Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Soeviknes stressed the strategic importance of the country's petroleum exports.

    "Our oil and gas is extremely important as a reliable source of energy for Europe. This has been under-communicated in public debate," he said, as quoted.

    Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said she believed that Norway was able to find a balance between sustainable growth and protecting the Arctic, as it has been for decades.

    Norway's authorities are under constant pressure from environmental groups and scientists advocating for leaving untapped oil and gas reserves where they are and curbing Norway's push for oil to fulfill its climate commitments, in particular, the Paris Climate Agreement.

    Last week, Norway's conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg formed a new government together with the Progress Party and the Liberal Party, which replaced the Christian Democratic Party in her coalition.

    The annual Arctic Frontiers conference will be in Tromso from January 21 to January 26. The forum is focused on achieving economic growth and sustainable development in the Arctic region.


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