Stereotypes about Norway are rampant / Columns / The Foreigner

Stereotypes about Norway are rampant. An American colleague recently blithely described Norway as 'an environmentally-friendly country with strong regulations'. There are indeed many good environmental practices in Norway. We should not idealise the situation, but recognise that all countries have much to learn and teach. Many (although far from all) of Norway's strong environmental regulations come from Brussels. Perhaps Norway did not write them, but kudos to this non-EU country for implementing, monitoring, and enforcing many EU regulations--unlike some EU countries.

climate, norway, environment, co2, greenhousegases



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Stereotypes about Norway are rampant

Published on Saturday, 28th February, 2015 at 12:51 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

An American colleague recently blithely described Norway as 'an environmentally-friendly country with strong regulations'.

A picture of Norwegian nature
A picture of Norwegian nature
Photo: Ilan Kelman


There are indeed many good environmental practices in Norway. We should not idealise the situation, but recognise that all countries have much to learn and teach.

Many (although far from all) of Norway's strong environmental regulations come from Brussels. Perhaps Norway did not write them, but kudos to this non-EU country for implementing, monitoring, and enforcing many EU regulations--unlike some EU countries.

A further paradox emerges regarding Norwegian natural resources. Deep Ecology was born amidst protests against dam construction, such as Mardøla and Alta, not to mention pollution from the pulp and paper industry.

The contrast continues today with oil and gas exploration and extraction. There are, naturally, intense debates within Norway about fossil fuels, especially regarding northern Norway. Use them all or not?

Norway is blessed with scenic beauty, abundant hydropower, and a small population spread out around the country, amongst many other advantages. These factors help to perpetuate the view of Norway's environmental approach.

Many initiatives are positive, albeit funded by petroleum revenues. Many are debatable including fish and wind farms, plus some of the hydropower endeavours.

There is nonetheless plenty of truth in the environmentally friendly view of Norway--alongside an extensive darker side. We must certainly ask whether or not whaling would be considered to be environmentally friendly.

The key is not to rely on stereotypes, but to recognise the complexity of reality. I even know at least one American who does not drive an SUV.

Ilan Kelman is a Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London. He has never hunted whales or driven an SUV.



Published on Saturday, 28th February, 2015 at 12:51 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: climate, norway, environment, co2, greenhousegases.





  
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