* Aims to increase ambition for a 50% cut by 2030
* So far, emissions have increased almost flat
* UN climate process under tension
By Nerijus Adomaitis
OSLO (Reuters) – Norway, Western Europe's largest oil and gas producer, announced on Friday that it was increasing its ambition to reduce carbon emissions and would present an implementation plan to parliament later this year.
Under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, mediated in 2015, countries must submit revised plans to reduce emissions, known as nationally determined contributions, every five years.
Norway said on Friday that it was one of the first countries to send improved reduction plans to the United Nations and would increase its ambition to cut at least 50% from 1990 levels by 2030, above an earlier pledge to a 40% cut.
"Norway's new and strengthened target is to reduce emissions by at least 50%, and by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels," the climate and environment ministry said in a statement.
So far, Norway's emissions are close to normal, according to the most recent data available. In 2018, they were 1% higher than 1990 levels. Oil and gas contribute more than a quarter of Norway's total emissions of 52 million tonnes of carbon.
Norway, which is not part of the EU, said it wants to meet the improved target in collaboration with another non-EU country, Iceland, and the European Union, which promised new laws in March to make the bloc's climate neutral by 2050.
Current rules allow Norway to pay for emission reductions in other parts of the EU in order to prevent it from producing above agreed limits, but is looking to get most of its emissions cuts at home.
It already has the highest rate of electric car use in the world and has initiated efforts to bury emissions.
His state-controlled oil and gas company, Equinor, promised in January to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its domestic operations by 40% this decade and to almost zero by 2050.
Pressure is increasing on countries and companies that depend on fossil fuels, as investors are less and less willing to finance projects that ignore the need to slow global warming.
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But climate advocates are concerned that the moment that brought the Paris climate agreement in 2015 has slowed, as the measures now needed to prevent a rise in temperature are likely to be costly and disturbing.
They say the next international climate conference in Glasgow in November will be a crucial test to determine whether the United Nations' global approach can work after negotiations in Madrid in December end in compromise. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis)