Theater of Cruelty

Conditional environmental optimism

The red-green has promised a strong focus on the environment, but oil in the north and predators are splitting. The environmental organizations follow the new government with a false look.


Environmental organizations are now waiting for results from a government that has promised more than anyone else before the election. Although the red-green government in many areas has a healthier profile for its environmental organizations than its predecessor, there are areas that they believe are going in the wrong direction:

The government has not stated clearly what is going to happen in the Barents Sea. The question is addressed later. In the government, SV is in the minority and is at risk of being overrun by Ap and Sp about how extensive the oil business in the Barents Sea will be. Another area where there is disagreement in the government is the question of how the predators should be in Norway. Here too SV may appear to be the party that has to give up.

Head of Nature and Youth, Ane H. Kismul, says that for them the requirements are the same as before the change of government.

- We demand that the new government does not open up the Barents Sea for oil activities, and that vulnerable sea areas are given lasting protection against oil activities as "petroleum-free areas". Resistance to oil exploration in the north is the highest priority for Nature and Youth right now, says Kismul.

Lars Haltbrekken, leader of the Nature Conservation Association, is, on his part, a conditional optimist.

- No cases are lost in advance. Here it must be fought. The challenges will be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, as stated in the declaration. In addition, the new Minister of the Environment must take up the fight against the oil industry and secure petroleum-free areas in the Barents Sea and ensure lasting protection of the sea areas off Lofoten, says Lars Haltbrekken.

The results count.

The leader in Nature and Youth, Ane H. Kismul, has high hopes for the new government. She, along with her members, is keeping a close eye on environmental policy that is being pursued day by day for the next four years.

- It is concrete environmental results that count. The most important thing in the environmental fight further is to choose the good environmental solutions that exist. We hope that Helen Bjørnøy will be a strong and determined minister who dares to take up the fight against the old-fashioned pollution ideas in the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, says Ane H. Kismul

She points out that one of the challenges in the government will be how they handle the further work on the management plan for the Barents Sea.

- It is crucial that some boundaries are set for the oil industry and that petroleum-free areas are created before the oil industry is allowed in, says Kismul, and supports Haltbrekken in that there are no lost cases yet. On the other hand, she is very happy with two victories so far:

- There are two important environmental victories in the government declaration: The gas power plant will be cleaned and Vefsna will be protected. The stage is set for a rematch for the Barents Sea during the next year, she says.

Start again

Rasmus Hansson, leader of WWF-Norway, gives the new government clear advice: Throw Bondevik's budget in the bucket. WWF believes that the presented budget can not be used to implement the most ambitious environmental policy of all time.

- Norway's predators are facing even harder times with the red-green predator policy, Rasmus Hansson believes. But in the oil and environmental field otherwise, WWF is positive.

- The new majority government has promised to strengthen oil spill preparedness. WWF therefore expects a strong investment in this area. Fortunately, the red-green government has promised to make Norway a world leader in environmental aid. Then we must get a sharp increase already in the state budget for next year, Hansson says.

In Bellona, ​​Frederic Hauge is pleased to have Helen Bjørnøy as Minister of State.

- Bjørnøy is a strong personality who we hope will make his mark on the Ministry of the Environment. – We can only hope that the ministry will enjoy the fruits of her knowledge, especially about the EU, because there is a great need for knowledge. We also hope that she succeeds in strengthening the independence and professional integrity of her agencies. It is very important that she takes back power, says Frederic Hauge.

On the other hand, Bellona is more skeptical of Odd Roger Enoksen as Minister of Petroleum and Energy. But they hope that Enoksen will be strong in its opposition to oil drilling in the sea off Lofoten and Vesterålen.

- We know that oil drilling in the North will be a big issue. We must keep an eye on what is happening every single day. We will not find ourselves in any political cul-de-sac, says Frederic Hauge. He and Bellona are investing in a good collaboration with Enoksen in particular to achieve an offensive program in relation to CO2 management.

Local observers

Federation leader Finn Roar Bruun in the Norwegian Science Association (NaFo) believes that the most positive thing about the new government's environmental policy is that they see the need to upgrade the local environmental protection competence. Figures published by ProSus show that in 1997, 78 per cent of all municipalities had either an environmental protection manager, manager, consultant or adviser in a permanent position. In 2000, this proportion was 28 per cent, while the figure in 2004 was down to less than 10 per cent.

- The signals in the Sori Moria Declaration are very gratifying. The government should now start upgrading the local environmental protection competence, says Finn Roar Bruun.

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