Øygarden municipality: where’s the passion for climate and nature?

When we destroy nature in favour of development, we lose it forever.

In the global fight against climate change it’s necessary for our local communities to transition to a low emission society. Unfortunately, it looks like Øygarden municipality is far behind in this regard, and it’s about time we ask the question: where’s the passion for climate and nature?

We live in a region highly valued for its beautiful nature, but at the same time we bear witness to the destruction of these natural gems. This happens little by little, so that we hardly even notice it. In the long term this leads to the loss of for example endangered types of nature, intervention-free nature, swamps, and waterways. Without a plan for the conservation of nature it’s hard to see the consequences of what loose dispensations can lead to for the rest of the residents.

In this critical period we aren’t just missing a climate budget and accounting, but also a clear nature plan. The destruction of natural areas such as forests, swamps, and waterways happens at the same time as the building of a CO2 capture-and-storage facility in the municipality – a paradox.

When nature is being destroyed, we lose it forever. Øygarden municipality, like everyone else, is subject to the Climate Change Act and other relevant regulations. The Climate Change Act requires the municipality primary responsibility for reducing emissions of climate gases within its geographical area. This includes setting climate goals, developing a strategy, and implementing measures through a climate budget, with subsequent reporting of this effort to the county municipality.

In a time where other municipalities are taking large steps towards sustainable practices, we see that Øygarden is missing a clear strategy and specific plans. This affects us all, from those who enjoy a quiet walk in the woods, to the politician who takes decisions on behalf of our community. In the report “the transition to low emissions” (“omstilling til lavutslipp”) from the 2050 climate change committee, much importance is placed on the importance of municipalities in planning and executing measures to lay the groundwork for a transition to a low emission society.

Oslo was the first municipality to introduce a climate budget, and many others have followed. Flakstad was the first municipality in Norway to introduce a goal of area neutrality. There are also many municipalities working actively to take into account climate and circularity in the operation of the municipality and in acquisitions. 

We encourage Øygarden municipality to act now. A climate budget gives a clear economic overview of measures to reduce our climate footprint. It will give insight into emissions, and by adjusting strategies we can achieve better results. A nature plan is critical to preserve biodiversity and handle climate change. Politicians, it’s time to lead the way as a good example. A climate budget gives clarity in the use of resources and shows leadership in the climate battle. We encourage political action and a nature agreement as part of a holistic climate- and sustainability strategy.

Its time to shape a municipality that we can be proud of and fight for our future. Let’s take care of our nature together and create an Øygarden that is a model example of climate- and environmental responsibility.

Text by Lene Kristin Hansen, The Norwegian Society for the Preservation of Nature in Øygarden municipality. First published in Vestnytt 16th of January 2024.