OT Green Row Topples Norway Gov (gas-powered power plants)

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Thursday, 9 March, 2000, 22:13 GMT

Green row topples Norway Government

There is a growing demand for power in Norway Norway's Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and his minority government is stepping down, after losing a landmark environmental vote in parliament.

Mr Bondevik announced his decision after asking for parliament for a vote of confidence in the debate over whether to allow gas-fired power plants to be built in Norway.

After being defeated by 81 to 71 votes, Mr Bondevik, 52, told parliament he would hand his resignation to King Harald on Friday.

Carbon dioxide

The government was opposed to the building of such plants and proposed waiting until new technology is available which would make it possible to remove 90% of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Christian Democrat had staked the three-party government he formed in 1997 on a dispute with parliament's majority over a move he said would weaken Norway's strict environmental laws.

But the opposition - an ad hoc alliance of conservatives and the Labour Party - wants to build the stations to meet the country's growing demand for power.

Bitter debate

Norway gets most of its electricity from clean hydroelectric plants, and the government of Mr Bondevik wanted to postpone natural gas plants until new technology could make them pollution free.

The BBC correspondent in Oslo says Mr Bondevik's government has done its best to implement progressive environmental policies during its 28 months in power; it would now seem to be the first government to fall as a result of issues related to global warming.

Natural gas power in Norway, the world's second-largest oil exporter, has caused a long and bitter debate in the nation of 4.5 million.

Opponents of the gas-fired power plants say they will harm the environment by producing as much pollution as 700,000 private cars a year.

But supporters say they will cut the amount of electricity imported from dirty, coal-fired plants abroad.

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), March 09, 2000

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