Life is about taking advantage of the opportunities that you are given- being a trainee there are a lot of opportunities that are heading my way. One of these opportunities was to arrange and lead a climate debate. On a cold february night Statkraft and Statnett trainees gather over 100 people to come listen to a debate about the implications of the COP21/Paris agreement.
The planning of the event started in October 2015 when a friend from Statnett came to me with an invitation from the Norwegian Polytechnic Society to throw a meeting for young people in the Energy sector. Me, Lotte and Arvid were all eager to contribute, and after a couple of meetings with the Statnett trainees we agreed on the theme. The meeting was going to be called “Post Paris- What happens next? From empty words to clear actions”.
The meeting started with representatives from the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment giving a short introduction to the Paris agreement and the plans going forward. After this we had invited representatives from the three largest polluting sectors in Norway to introduce their plan to “Go green”. These three sectors make up 85 % of the total emissions in Norway, so there was a lot of potential here. First up to present was Bjørn Otto Sverdrup from Statoil; Statoil is the largest Norwegian owned oil company. In the last years they have started investing in green technology such as wind offshore and a green venture capital fund to invest in green technologies. At the same time they are involved in highly polluting oil sand projects, and export tons of Oil and gas from Norwegian areas each. Their main message, as expected, was Norwegian gas as an environmentally friendly alternative to coal. Pointing out that we will need gas in this century, and should focus on phasing out the largest polluting technologies first.
After this Bjørn Kjetil Mauritzen from Hydro talked about their new flagship, the “Karmøy Aluminium plant”, which was announced the same day. Using new technology this plant will produce the most energy efficient and green aluminium in the world ( Read more). They also talked about the advantage of producing aluminium, which is highly energy demanding, in Norway. Here they can produce aluminium with power from hydropower, instead of Coal and gas, which is the only alternative in most other countries.
Last on out was Hanna Lee Behrens from the Norwegian shipowner association, representing the transport sector. Starting off by showing a graph of how boats had the lowest carbon emissions of all transport alternatives measured in kg/km. After this talking about how the shipping sector has almost no financial incentives to go green. Showing a willing to do so, she asked the politician to work on an international tax on carbon.
From empty words to clear actions
Have you ever thought that politicians use a lot of fancy words, but many time avoid talking about how to solve the big issues? In december last year, Norway signed the new global climate agreement under the COP21 in Paris. From that came the goal to reduce gas emissions by 40% compared to 1990-emissions by 2030. After this there has been a lot of congratulations and people pointing out what a great achievement this was. But to be fair, we have just pointed out what the goal is, nothing about how to reach it. This was the motivation for the second part of the meeting; we wanted to gather politicians, scientists, environmentalists and companies to have a discussion about solutions. We therefore asked them this easy question “What should we do the next years to reduce the Norwegians carbon footprint?
Together with the four people giving the introduction, we had invited Asbjørn Torvanger an economic scientist from Cicero and Kåre Gunnar Fløystad environmentalists from Zero. I had the pleasure of leading the debate and asking the debaters questions we all was wondering. To start of I asked the audience if they thought that Norway would reach it’s 2030 target based on what we had heard so far? Only 50% was convinced that we would- and I have to admit that I was one of them who questioned this goal based on these presentations.
“You can say you believe in something – but unless you demonstrate that belief through your actions, your words become meaningless.” ~ Stephen M. R. Covey
During the debate I got the impression that everyone wanted to go green, but that the potential was outside Norway. There was few suggestions on solutions, with only exception being the need for a global tax on carbon. One from the audience pointed out that there was not the politicians responsibility neither the companies to reduce carbon emission. It is me and you, all the small choices we do; we can vote for the parties that put the environment on the agenda and buy products from companies that have a green profile. I don’t think it is so easy- I believe people change when they have an incentive. I believe the solutions should be built on rewarding those who change their way and taxing those who don’t.
If you are interested in similar event please check out the PF Energy webpage: http://www.polyteknisk.no/.