OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's greenhouse gas emissions will fall to around 1990 levels by 2020, the government said on Wednesday, far from original goals of deep cuts for an economy struggling with high emissions from oil and gas.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg said revised projections showed progress in curbing emissions since her right-wing government came to power in 2013, aided by a faster than expected shift to electric cars in the Nordic nation.
"Updated emissions forecasts show for the first time a decline towards 2020," the government said in a statement about changes since it took office.
Norway's greenhouse gas emissions were 53.9 million tonnes in 2015 and the finance ministry forecast a decline to around 1990 levels of 51.7 million by 2020. It said that was five million tonnes less than it previously expected.
Still, the projected fall is far from Norway's pledge as part of an international accord at a Copenhagen summit in 2009 to cut emissions by at least 30 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, the benchmark year for global action.
At that time, Oslo left open an option for making cuts by helping developing nations to reduce their emissions, but did not spell out that none of the cuts would be achieved at home.
Norway has been the most generous developed nation in providing aid to help emerging nations to combat deforestation, a major source of carbon dioxide, with projects of $1 billion each for Brazil and Indonesia.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, Norway plans to cut emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, matching targets by the European Union. It reaffirmed the goal despite back-tracking by U.S. President Donald Trump
Some environmentalists said Solberg was simply juggling figures to give an impression of progress.
Nina Jensen, of the WWF conservation group, said the government was putting off promised curbs until 2030. "That's nothing to boast about, Erna?" she asked Solberg in a tweet.
Reporting By Alister Doyle, editing by David Evans