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An everyday occurrence

No one writes about the victims of climate change until they are rich and white. A Katrina happens every day.


Norway is very far behind when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions in relation to the commitments we have under the Kyoto agreement, which only gives us room for an increase of 1 per cent compared to the 1990 level. Today, we expect a 24 percent increase. If the four gas power plants at Skogn, Kårstø, Mongstad and Tjeldbergodden are built, we will see an increase of 31 per cent. Then we end up in class with the United States. So surely the efforts of the environmental movement have failed? Lars Haltbrekken, leader of the Nature Conservation Association, pulls it off.

- We must constantly become better at pushing for a reduction in emissions, but I do not want to say that we have failed. Norway, on the other hand, has failed when it comes to taking the climate threat seriously. None of the parties in the Storting, with one exception, takes this seriously. That said, I think the government has been tough in relation to the pressure from the FRP to lower petrol taxes. But no one has spoken out in favor of raising them either.

- Do we need a hurricane in the southern United States, floods in Germany and forest fires in Portugal to put climate on the agenda?

- Yes, it is clear that an event like Katrina gives us the opportunity to talk about climate change, but honestly: such things happen every single day all year round based on climate change, without anyone writing a single word about it. According to the World Health Organization, 150.000 people die each year due to climate change, and the number will rise to 200.000. But who is affected? They are the poorest. In New Orleans, the population was alerted and the authorities had an opportunity to evacuate the city. In November, I visited a Masai tribe in Tanzania. Every single year the rain has come on September 20, last year it did not come until November for the first time. Do these people have any choice but to adapt to local climate change?

- You want high oil prices, not just petrol prices, to curb consumption, but Norwegians can probably always afford expensive petrol; it is probably the poor oil-importing countries that do not manage the bill?

- For the developing countries, it is clear that development is connected with the supply of energy, as was once also the case for Norway. Then the developing countries say that they will do as we have done, use polluting energy to create development, and clean up afterwards. And how can we really refuse them to do the same as we have done? Then we have a moral responsibility to ensure a technology transfer that ensures energy efficiency and ensures that these countries' emissions do not increase. Developing countries do not have many options when it comes to reducing their emissions. Vi can always afford to buy some carbon plantations in Uganda, and expel the locals. Developing countries do not have this opportunity, so they are far more concerned with adapting to climate change.

- And who will pay for such a technology transfer?

- How big is the oil fund today? This wealth is built on the export of pollution. We can safely use this money to ensure such a technology transfer. The Petroleum Fund is intended to secure our pensions in the future. I would say that such a technology transfer is a cheap life insurance for our descendants. We constantly hear politicians emphasize that Norway's emissions are so small. Then they have not taken into account the export of oil, we are after all the world's third largest oil exporter. In addition, the latest ranking from the UN Development Program, UNDP, placed Norway in fifth place in terms of development assistance. We did well when it came to the development assistance share of gross domestic product, but did very poorly on the environment, compared with Denmark, which was ranked number one.

- A few years ago, there were loud debates about whether climate change is actually man-made; Is it just George W. Bush and the oil companies who still doubt?

- Yes, almost, and then Frp of course. For each of the three climate reports presented, the certainty that this is man-made has increased. What is important in the climate negotiations in Canada in December is that the Norwegian government places Bush in the hallway. Any agreement that emerges from these negotiations, and that the United States can join, will be a threat to the environment. Therefore, we must wait until after the next presidential election to bring the United States with us. It is important that an agreement in Canada is based on the Kyoto Protocol, such as the United States not has recognized, rather than the non-binding climate convention from Rio, as the United States has recognized. An agreement in Canada that requires halving emissions by 2020 will put strong pressure on the next White House administration. When the ministers meet in Canada, I also hope they take the time to take a trip north to the ice edge. There, Sofie Prize winner Sheila Watt-Cloutier can tell them about climate change in the area. How hunters perish because they hunt as they always have, while the ice no longer carries.

- A halving, and we are in goal?

- No, the researchers operate with a need for a reduction of between 60 and 80 percent. For Norway, which is above the average in emissions, this means a reduction of 80 – 90 percent. Then energy saving and new technology are not enough, we must also use CO2 deposition. It is nevertheless important to emphasize that landfilling is only a short-term measure to achieve this goal.

- What is the point of keeping the Norwegian part of the Barents Sea free of petroleum activities, if the Russian zone is expanded?

- Is it right to steal because others steal? Norway has a special responsibility to prevent oil accidents in this vulnerable area, and more oil also produces more greenhouse gas emissions. I can understand the Finnmark people, when they want oil activities. But new business must not be at the expense of existing business. We risk having fish-free petroleum areas instead of petroleum-free fishing areas. The first thing a new government must do after the election, no matter who it is, is to create petroleum-free zones in Lofoten, Vesterålen and the Barents Sea. And should there be a new Bondevik government, he must soon get rid of Oil and Energy Minister Torhild Widvey. The lady is crazy, and now she wants to open up for oil exploration outside Lofoten.

- But honestly: with persistently high oil prices, American focus on resources in the north, development of the Russian sector, riots in the Middle East, increasing consumption, falling reserves, better technology and Norwegian greed, do you think the Barents Sea will be spared for oil extraction, let us say, 100 years?

- We fight for what we believe in until the opposite is a fact. And I trust that the political parties keep their promises in their party programs, concludes Lars Haltbrekken, but not without a little pause for thought.

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