Looking beyond the oil horizon / Columns / The Foreigner

Looking beyond the oil horizon. Oil is hovering above the magical, arbitrary mark of $100 a barrel. That leads oil countries such as Norway to enjoy the black gold wealth--and to think about using its oil money responsibly. The Norwegian government is deservedly famous for its generosity at home and abroad. The sovereign wealth fund managers have also received plenty of criticism for poor investment decisions, including unethical causes. Despite the delicate balancing act of investing the oil money, a more fundamental question emerges: When Norway has already gained so much and used the wealth comparatively wisely, why seek more?

oil, norwaymoney, co2, climate



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Looking beyond the oil horizon

Published on Monday, 17th March, 2014 at 10:12 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.
Last Updated on 17th March 2014 at 10:29.

Oil is hovering above the magical, arbitrary mark of $100 a barrel. That leads oil countries such as Norway to enjoy the black gold wealth--and to think about using its oil money responsibly.

Wealth in beauty in northern Norway
A sunset around Senja. Wealth in beauty in northern Norway
Photo: Ilan Kelman


The Norwegian government is deservedly famous for its generosity at home and abroad. The sovereign wealth fund managers have also received plenty of criticism for poor investment decisions, including unethical causes.

Despite the delicate balancing act of investing the oil money, a more fundamental question emerges: When Norway has already gained so much and used the wealth comparatively wisely, why seek more?

Statoil's majority stakeholder is the Norwegian government. Governments are not bound by corporate norms.

A government can decide to make less money in order to reap non-financial profit. Statoil could leave oil in the ground in places such as Alberta's Tar Sands and Lofoten.

Imagine, as a statement of corporate responsibility (and government responsibility), earning less money rather than just giving away money earned. Imagine the non-monetary gains from accepting that not all available resources must be exploited.

That would perpetuate Norway's generosity to the world through leaving landscapes and communities unmarred by oil infrastructure and pollution. What a powerful statement to the rest of the world.

The message is not "Avoid fossil fuel" nor is it "Do what we say, not what we do". It is a balance instead: Enjoy the fortuitous fossil fuel wealth to some degree, but look beyond that.

To paraphrase the reputed founder of Taoism, "They who know that $100/barrel is enough will always have enough."

Ilan Kelman is a Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London.




Published on Monday, 17th March, 2014 at 10:12 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.
Last updated on 17th March 2014 at 10:29.

This post has the following tags: oil, norwaymoney, co2, climate.





  
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