Why would Norway decide to pump less oil? Is it concern about fossil fuel dependency, worries about running the world on a finite and polluting energy source?
Could it be empathy for the poorest people suffering the devastating consequences of climate change, or a desire to stimulate renewable energy innovation?
The answer is none of the above.
Instead, it was a labour dispute with offshore oil workers. Unions went on strike, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association threatened lockouts, and ministerial intervention eventually forced the battle into arbitration--just as production might have been shut down.
Reduced production might be environmentally advantageous. Yet few people could advocate that Norway should stop extracting petroleum entirely. The country's wealth and quality of life are built on the income generated by the North Sea.
Not all that wealth stays at home. Norway donates generously to the world for development aid, conflict resolution, and environmental projects, amongst many other activities.
The black gold funds are used domestically as well. From pensions to education, from rural life to scientific research, the country's small population has done well in investing its serendipitous riches for its entire people. Norway has also saved plenty of money for a post-oil future, unlike many other oil-rich jurisdictions.
Yet does that mean that every last drop of petroleum ought to be sucked out of the ground?
It seems prudent to slow down and relax rather than seeking the impossibility of eternal production increases,. A long-term plan would be to consolidate the money, to wean the economy and the globe off fossil fuels, and to ease into consistent but lower production levels.
It is unnecessary to create conflict and controversy by tapping into new and risky sources. The reserves will not disappear if we are still desperate for fossil fuels in the future. And, if not, then no reason exists to cause problems now.
The recent 'oil strike' raises questions about striking oil. It is not just about managing the oil money, but also about managing the oil.
We can decide that "enough is enough" without saying "no" to oil and its wealth.
Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).
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