Theater of Cruelty

Nista is safe – what about the environment?

The election campaign has largely consisted of tactical squabbling and marginal promises that people who have the smell of grease in the past should get even better, says Rasmus Hansson in WWF.


In a report they have prepared on behalf of the World Natural Fund (WWF), Nordland Research has concluded that the value creation of fish and tourism in Northern Norway is much greater than oil. The national media think such investigations are unattractive.

Managing Director of the organization The Future in Our Hands (FIVH), Arild Hermstad, believes that a tight sky has risen over the election campaign.

- Everyone wants to increase the record-high Norwegian prosperity, everyone wants to improve the school, increase the kindergarten development, better conditions for the elderly, the younger, the single and for families with children. Still, the party leaders are arguing. It is not always easy to understand why. Is the Norwegian political debate really reduced to a discussion about cash benefits and gender-neutral marriages, Arild Hermstad asks.

He believes it would increase political interest if the political parties and their election campaign raised their eyes slightly beyond Norway's borders and into the future.

- Where has the environmental policy, the Kyoto agreement, the protection policy or what about Norway's role in the world – in the UN and other places where we can influence? It would have been good if the focus could have been there instead of narrowing the horizon to a question of our own pension, Hermstad believes.

- Climate change may sweep all pension forecasts over. Why is the enormous and sustained growth of our CO2 emissions not being discussed? Why will no one talk about the UN's recent environmental report which stated that we are in the process of destroying 60 percent of the ecosystems on Earth, Arild Hermstad asks and gives some of the answer himself.

- Maybe because these conditions are a result of the sacred welfare growth? All politicians seem to agree that we Norwegians have the right to a consumption that presupposes that we have four globes at our disposal, even if there is only one, Hermstad emphasizes.

He calls for politicians and parties who dare to stand up and say that we should spend money to improve the environmental situation.

- Everyone is keen to tell about everything we are going to get, while no one dares to say what we have to give to get a better environment in the future. I wish there was a politician who dares to tell the people that we must, for example, cut down on air traffic. Or other clear measures that can improve the environment both in Norway and in the world. Instead, the politicians are concerned with promising more of everything to everyone, and here all the parties from SV to the Progress Party are equal, says Arild Hermstad.

Need a plan

WWF Secretary General Rasmus Hansson is disappointed with the election campaign.

- The 2005 election campaign is sad. It has mostly consisted of tactical gossip and marginal promises that people who have the bang fat from before will get it even better. The excuse is that some percent are not doing so well. As a private person, I am disappointed that the government alternatives are so little alternative in relation to each other – of course because they are dominated by their respective parties with equal fiscal, foreign, business, district and environmental policies, says Rasmus Hansson.

As leader of the WWF, he calls for a clear environmental debate.

- Labor, H and Frp do not want to talk environment, KrF and SV hardly dare, Sp gets intestinal loop when they try to seem environmentally friendly, and the Liberal Party does not listen: It seems to be a self-affirming agreement in the parties and most media that environment does not selling now. SV – that is, Kristin Halvorsen – has disappointed in this area. At least in the national media, says Rasmus Hansson to Ny Tid.

He is looking for answers on how the next government, which may be sitting until 2009, will fulfill some Storting decisions.

- How will a new government fulfill the Storting's decision to stop Norwegian biodiversity loss by 2010, Hansson asks and points out that Norwegian nature has become 30 percent poorer in species since 1970.

- WWF's Nature Index 2005 shows that this job requires a different policy than the one that has been pursued for the last thirty or forty years. What is the plan? So far, I have only been told what my kids should have in the food package, says Hansson.

Another challenge is how the government will fulfill the Kyoto commitment. We have committed ourselves to only increasing CO2 emissions by one percent compared to 1990 levels in 2012. What will Norway show when we present a new report on developments in 2008. I just remind you that today we are 13 percent above the 1990 level. This requires overall national action and multi-billion investment in research and sustainable alternatives. Bellona's CO2 dump plan is the only concrete proposal. Whether it will give a net gain, I'm not sure, and it can not solve the whole problem anyway, Rasmus Hansson emphasizes.

Government responsibility

Rasmus Hansson points out that voters should also ask themselves what they want with politicians who genuinely believe that they do not have to follow the decisions they themselves make.

- It is the government that is elected now that must do these jobs – or bear the responsibility for Norway failing in both the Kyoto context and in the issue of biodiversity. If it is true that the media and parties assume that voters do not care about this, then at least voters should ask themselves what they think about politicians who adopt national and international obligations they have no intention of fulfilling.

resource policy

Rasmus Hansson also calls for a comprehensive resource policy. Several organizations with the Norwegian Fisheries Team and WWF at the forefront have demanded a clearer policy regarding what is swimming in the sea and what we want to pump up oil and gas into the seabed.

- We need a comprehensive management of Norway's most important resource – as the Storting has decided for the marine sector. Should the oil and gas industry have the entire sea at its disposal or should the most environmentally important areas be exempted, as we and the Fishermen's Association have proposed, Rasmus Hansson asks.

- Aid is our largest foreign policy investment – this is also possible in the environmental area that the UN, the World Bank, Bondevik and others have stated are crucial for the lives and development of the poor.

Rasmus Hansson calls for strategies for how Norway can use development assistance more environmentally friendly. At the national level, he calls for the politician and the party that dares to demand "national responsibility" in the wave of decentralization.

- It is enough to take in. The forest protection needs money for the Storting's adopted protection goals to be achieved. Will the funds come or, Hansson asks and wants an end to the bit-by-bit policy that eats up Norwegian nature.

- If ambitions for national wild reindeer management, comprehensive mountain policy, biodiversity protection and so on are to be achieved, even more responsibility cannot be transferred uncritically to the municipalities, when we know that nine out of ten municipalities lack environmental capacity and competence.

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