De beste intensjoner - Oljelandet i klimakampen by Anne Karin Sæther, or "The Best of intentions - The oil country in the climate battle" is one of the best books I've read this year. It got great reviews when it came out in 2017, and is still a must read for anyone who wishes to understand the ultimate paradox that is how the Norwegian oil industry and climate legislation has been in bed together since day one.
The book gives you the historical background since we first found oil in 1969 at Ekofisk, and how the newly established Oil Office compiled "the ten oil commandments" that would govern Norwegian oil and climate policies in the years to come. It was decided that the oil should be extracted at a "moderate" estimate. This meant that Norway had given itself a limit to how much oil that should be extracted each year, based on the precautionary measures that we did not know how it would go. Later in the book, it is revealed that this "moderate" estimate were in fact higher than what the earliest oil pioners could ever imagine that Norway would extract of oil, but the principle of a moderate oil extractive pace was established to stay.
Then, we are presented with how Norway led the way as the climate leading nation, with the worlds first environmental minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland. In 1987 she presented the report "Our common future" in the UN's climate assembly, where she recognised the impact oil extractions would have on our climate. As one of the first nations, Norway presented its first climate law, which was to "stabilise" the CO2 emissions during the 1990s or latest in the year 2000.
However, in the Norwegian Parliament and oil industry, it was recognised how this climate law would hinder the oil industry. This is when the idea of climate quotas was first invented. It became crucial for Norway's new and growing industry, that gave Norway so much wealth, to not be strangled by climate legislation. Therefore, in the next UN assembly, the then statistician Jens Stoltenberg, presented for the environmental ministers the idea that emission cuts could be made outside ones own country. It was in Norway's interest that you could pay other countries a quota, in stead of reducing emissions in your own country.
In the next UN assembly, where Norway was part of negotiating forward a climate agreement, our new politics on CO2 emissions made us unpopular. Norway was criticised for caring more about national interests, than the climate, and that our protectionism was delaying the work with the climate agreement.
These are the events the Norwegian oil adventure was based upon. "The best intentions" then goes on and present some of the arguments the Norwegian oil industry has used to defend its further use of more oil extraction in a time when we know how closely linked the oil industry is to climate change and rising CO2 emissions. The myths of "the worlds cleanest oil" and "Norwegian oil to the worlds poor" are dissected and revealed. Further, the book talks about Statoils role in Norway, and how this has affected the Parliament and our politicians. It also discusses modern oil debates, as the Lofoten area.
This book is for anyone who wishes to understand how and why Norways biggest industry has played such a huge role in our modern history and policy making. It is also for anyone who is interested in Norwegian politics, international climate politics or just wishes to read a really well written book.