February 3, 2023

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Green Shift | Yes thanks for the coffee, no thanks for the tea

“The machine worked in an interesting way. When you hit the drink button, it performed an instantaneous and very detailed scan of the subject’s taste buds, a spectral analysis of the subject’s metabolism, before sending some experimental test signals through the nervous system to the subject’s taste center to see what they could taste like.” …but no one really knows why he’s doing all this, because he’s always emitting a liquid that can look like tea.” (From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams)

Almost three years ago I was standing in the backyard outside our Oslo apartment. I usually hear noises from cars and people and maybe some shouting from the party. The reason I’m standing in the backyard listening to him is because now he’s completely quiet. It was great! We lived in Vålerenga, and the constant background noise from the E6 was gone. No shouting from the neighborhood pub. It was March 12, 2020. The day the government introduced the most invasive measures we have seen in peacetime. In the middle of Norway’s largest city, it was now much quieter than an ordinary evening in Ottskarbeen.

I still feel the feeling in my body from those days. The atmosphere is at the grocery store, as we almost hold our breath as we put an extra bag of toilet paper into the cart. Discussions about whether it is among Corona rules for the older man to play with the boy next door. They are not in the same group! Well, you can go.

There is nothing to miss in the age of Corona. But wasn’t there anything liberating about those early days? Feeling that the community is able to take the necessary steps to protect the community? It was a crisis, and politicians showed leadership.

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The world is in a climate crisis. We’ve heard this so many times before that perhaps the word “crisis” has lost its weight and meaning? But the climate crisis means that we face a severe challenge that must be resolved quickly to avoid very severe consequences for people and nature. If we do not control greenhouse gas emissions, there will be more food shortages, refugee flows and armed conflicts. Record floods, record fires, record heat, record drought.

When there is a crisis, it means that action is urgent. However, we feel that the rest of the world may be about to follow Norway’s lead when it comes to climate mitigation measures and green industry. The European Union has put forward very ambitious plans, including through Fit for 55. In the US, they have introduced the “Inflation Reduction Act,” whereby money and incentives are spent on creating a green industry. Norway could end up in an awkward position if we don’t follow through.

It is known that we have a climate crisis, that electricity is becoming increasingly expensive, and that industry risks fighting back. Some examples of this have already appeared further south in Norway. But Norway also probably has the best conditions of any country to accelerate the development of renewable energy and green industry.

Now a lot is happening in Mo Industripark, with large industrial investments. We are well positioned within the green transition, thanks to long-term work over many years. We have a lot to be happy about. But Norway as a whole will become a poorer country in the future, without more renewable energy and green industry. Then it is a big problem that Norway risks having an electricity deficit in just 3-4 years. Then we will miss today’s electricity rates. Our politics cannot sit back and watch while other countries take action.

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This is when I think about the feeling I had on March 12, 2020. The authorities said it was a crisis, and followed that up with strong action. But when it comes to climate and energy, the authorities say there is a crisis – without really making big, strong steps.

The advanced brew machine, described in the quote above, collects all the data needed to make a perfect brew, but still always “serves only tea-like liquid.” It is a reasonably apt picture of climate reduction policy and Norway’s green transition.

We know that we must cut 55 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Thousands of pages of analyzes and reports have been written on how to achieve this. We know where emissions occur and how to reduce them. We know we need more than 50 terawatt-hours of new renewable energy to reach the targets. In addition to facilitating climate reduction, the green transition will also create thousands of new jobs, secure export income for the future, and provide growth in rural areas. Community “spectral analyzes” clearly show that a green shift is possible. Then politicians can’t keep offering “a liquid that can look like tea”.

Today’s government has shown so far that it can take strong action. The tax proposals in the 2023 state budget were more inclusive than even some of the opposition’s more radical alternative budgets. Yes, there was a disagreement. No, I don’t think all of the suggestions were good. But at least the government has taken strong action to solve the problems they think we as a society face.

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Therefore, I hope that 2023 will be the beginning of a tougher policy for building new green industry, accelerating the development of renewable energy, so that there is at least a chance that Norway will reach its 2030 climate goals. Good signals came from Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Storr recently at the annual conference of NHO on Thursday this week, with the central message being that now is the time to move from visions to action. Industry has been marked as essential for us to reach our climate goals. I am of course proud that the Prime Minister once again mentioned Mo i Rana in this context.

So maybe 2023 is the year we can use our spectral analyzes for something more than making something like tea? Isn’t it time for a strong coffee? Now at the start of the year, she should be allowed some dawn optimism.

Kind regards, Kim Andre Ochem. Head of Strategic Communications and PR at Mo Industripark