Norway's greenhouse gases down 2.2 percent in 2008

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.2 percent in 2008, led by a decline in manufacturing industry, but were still far above goals under the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol, Statistics Norway said on Tuesday.

Emissions fell to the equivalent of 53.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from 55.1 million in 2007, it said. Overall gross domestic product growth slowed in 2008 to 2.1 percent from 3.1 percent the year before.

The drop in emissions was a consequence of reduced consumption of fossil fuels and investment in new technology in the chemical industry, the state statistics agency said.

The figures put Norway’s emissions 7.4 percent above its goal of limiting emissions to 50.1 million metric tons a year from 2008-12, or one percent above 1990 levels, under the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has said, however, that Norway will sharpen its Kyoto goal unilaterally by an extra 10 percentage points.

Emissions from manufacturing industries, helped by investments in cleaner technologies, fell to 14.1 million metric tons in 2008 from 14.7 million in 2007, Statistics Norway said.

That meant oil and gas production overtook manufacturing as the biggest source of emissions. Emissions from oil and gas fell by 0.7 percent to 14.3 million metric tons as increased flaring from new fields was offset by decreased emissions from gas terminals.

Norway, the world’s number six oil exporter and Western Europe’s biggest gas exporter, has fared better than many other nations in the global economic crisis, sustained by petroleum revenues, government stimulus measures and a string of rate cuts by the central bank.

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Editing by Keiron Henderson