Norway: The Oil State

Welcome to Norway, home to a proud people who enjoy telling the myth about how they cheated their rival and neighbor Denmark by, despite owning very little of the North Sea oil, getting the then-Danish minister drunk on Norwegian snaps and signing the majority over to them.
It’s the same country whose prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg who claims to be really passionate about sustainability and solving climate chang, will not hear a bad word said about Statoil or scaling back Norway’s extensive oil and gas drilling program.
Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas company were once heralded as one of the world’s most sustainable and responsible oil company; then they got involved in Tar Sands.

The Norwegian church leading the attack on Statoil
Several Norwegian institutions and organizations have pulled, or are planning to pull, their investment from Statoil upon hearing about their investment in Tar Sands — seen as the biggest and most destructive energy project on the planet. The most prominent is no other than the Norwegian Church who has strongly criticized the government for its strong bonds to Statoil. The Norwegian Church Fund said that if Statoil does not withdraw from tar sands, the fund will withdraw from Statoil as a shareholder.
Svein Arne Lindø, leader of the Norwegian Church Council states: ”Peoples fight for rights, climate rights, and care for the creation is not party political, but is about how we must take responsibility for fact that the politics on this is ethically responsible.”
Ola Borten Moe, Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister retorted: ”The Church should not get involved politically. The world needs more fossil fuels to lift developing countries out of poverty.”
The group Grandparents Climate Campaign is also active in the attack on Statoil, having produced an open letter to Statoil demanding withdrawal from tar sands, this letter have been signed by 28 Norwegian organizations including WWF Norway and Greenpeace Norway.

Shareholder rebellion
In separate developments at Statoil’s AGM on May 15, several shareholders showed their disapproval about Statoil’s investments in tar sands — 2.14 percent voted for withdrawal, an increase of nearly 1 percent from a year ago. Based on these indications it’s clear that the Norwegians are slowly waking up to the fact that it’s not ethical to invest in Tar Sands.
But the real battle will have to be found within the government, which owns a staggering 67 percent of Statoil’s shares.
But Jens Stoltenberg and his government refuse to interfere in their business. But the increased pressure from the Norwegian public and organizations will only build up the pressure on them.

Norway’s future
The Norwegian government should ask themselves if Norway wants to continue being an oil state (or maybe more correctly, a fossil fuel state).
Even though Norway uses little gas, it continues to export gas — the majority of which is sold to the UK. We could ask the same question about oil. Even though Norway in the future would become less reliant in oil, do you think there would be less oil drilling if the resources were there?
It doesn’t make any sense for a country to become less fossil-fuel reliant if they just ship their fossil fuels to other countries. A country should first and foremost be evaluated on how much fossil fuels they dig out of the ground whether they use it themselves or not. The Energy and Oil minister’s explanation that developing countries need increased use of fossil fuels demonstrates very backward thinking from a supposedly forward looking government. Undeveloped and developing countries can develop with clean and renewable energy.
Until Norway reduces the amount of fossil fuels dug out of its earth and slashes investments in unethical investments like Tar Sands, it will continue to be an OIL STATE.

This was first published in the Huffington Post Thursday 1st of May

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