Black Bible for a Green Future 

Anne Karin Sæther: The best intentions. The oil land in the climate match Cappelen Damm. Norway

The best intentions The oil country in the climate battle
Forfatter: Anne Karin Sæther
Forlag: Cappelen Damm (Norge)
The 169 representatives who take the Parliament this fall should receive the best intentions as a welcome gift.


The old Bible in my childhood home had black covers. The book was forged from the earth's mud, full of sulfur, carbon and doomsday. Now I'm sitting with another brick in front of me; also this totally black. And full of carbon. And by doomsday. Is there hope and inspiration to be found in such black-colored books?

Anne Karin Sæthers The best intentions. The oil country in the climate battle is a solid piece of modern Norwegian history. Especially Statoil's role is analyzed, and our proud flagship – of course – gets a good deal of scratches in the paintwork. A quote from the book says something about why: "Norway should be the last country to end with oil and gas."

At the beginning of Easter week I read a post in Dagsavisen, written by the CEO of Norwegian Oil and Gas Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen. Finnmark's big politician son urges the growing family to think carefully as they seek higher education these days and wear what he calls "long glasses". He points to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, who says that we have only "collected 47 percent of the resources that are assumed to be hidden on the Norwegian continental shelf. More than half remains ».

Cognitive dissonance. What an adventure! What a luck! What an opportunity! But – isn't that a climate moment that needs to be included in the big picture?

"Norway will be the last country to end with oil and gas."

Here in Norway, we got the world's first Minister of the Environment in 1972, the same year that Statoil was established. Fifteen years later, in 1987, Gro Harlem Brundtland came in as the global environmentalist when she, as head of the UN Special Commission on Environment and Development, launched the report "Our Common Future". We have been seen as a world leader in the fight for the environment and development, against climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Nevertheless, we have at the same time increased the pace of our own oil extraction both at home and abroad. Does not this mean some form of cognitive inconsistency, also known as cognitive dissonance?

We have chosen the climate policy that best suits the oil industry. Through close cooperation and contact between the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Petroleum, Statistics Norway and leading financial environments, we have ensured that we think locally and act globally. We take the climate cuts out. This has become a "tough" tradition, where we keep our oil and climate policies well separated from each other.

New realities are coming in. But something is about to happen. With the climate agreement in Paris in 2015, more and more people realize that two thirds of the known reserves of coal, oil and gas must remain where they are. However, Erna Solberg stated a couple of years ago that there was no reason to slow down Norwegian oil and gas activities. And our new Minister of Petroleum and Energy Terje Søviknes recently emphasized the importance of the authorities continuing to "keep their foot on the accelerator pedal".

Norwegian politicians, such as Ola Borten Moe when he was Minister of Petroleum, have pushed the world's poor ahead of them in their eagerness to "sell" the message of the oil blessing. But it is money that rules – what else? – and not our noble relationship with the poor around the globe.

That our oil and gas are so much cleaner than others is simply not true. AS Norge prefers to sell Norwegian gas rather than renewable energy. Nor do we shy away from using lobbying power in Brussels and other important fora to undermine the EU's goal of energy efficiency and a renewable energy directive. In other words, oil money is more important than climate measures. Politicians are in the power of oil. They will deliver more and more purchasing power and welfare to demanding voters.

Borten Moe is a good example of how the oil industry shapes its people, with networks, camaraderie, corps spirit, future optimism and good engineers.

Up, as soon as possible. It is therefore entirely possible to explain the depressing Norwegian dissonance: It is no different from that of other oil producers. And now a melting Arctic gives us new opportunities: We can extract oil all the way up to the North Pole! Just ask Ola Borten Moe, the man who was previously skeptical of a too expansive oil policy. This skepticism was hardly the job description when he applied for the post of Minister of Petroleum.

Borten Moe is a good example of how the oil industry shapes its people, with networks, camaraderie, corps spirit, future optimism and good engineers. But as the British The Guardian has written: "If not Norway, the best country on earth, can resist the temptations deep down there, no matter what environmental consequences it has, who can?"

"The world will not get greener because Norway becomes poorer," says Conservative Nicolai Astrup. Such is the rhetoric of the political discourse. But Anne Karin Sæther shows us that Norway was neither poor before the oil and gas were found, nor will be poor after the two are phased out.

That Statoil is allowed to review Sæther's book should not surprise anyone. It is only in the last couple of years that greater demands for a three-part bottom line have come to light, where companies must deliver economically, socially and ecologically. Statoil has just changed its purpose clause, and is today defined as an energy company – not just an oil company. But you world how long it has taken!

The new role of non-fiction. Sæther is a realistic, sober and clear-minded author. She does not moralize, or go in to turn off all taps overnight. But she insists that we should refrain from opening new oil and gas fields, which is the opposite of what we are doing now, after the 23rd licensing round.

In a time of vague transitions between fake news and real news, between entertainment and analysis, non-fiction will become more important. Cappelen Damm should give the 169 representatives who will take over the Storting this autumn The best intentions as a welcome gift. The book can serve as a guide as Norway moves from the black to the green.

I have never before read an equally content-saturated analysis of the Norwegian oil adventure and our climate challenges. When I pull off the dirt cover, a new cover appears, dominated by green: a tableau from what I assume is Northern Norway. A piece of national romance; a fisherman's cabin with stockfish on the outside, turquoise blue sea and a white sandy beach, moss-covered, green mountains with snow on the tops. Here, nothing is left to chance. Designer Eivind Stoud Platou has also had clear intentions.

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