A recent deal was struck between the UK and Norway detailing the future plans for energy supply and security in both nations, a smart move considering that Norway supplies over a quarter of our entire energy needs, yes, our entire needs, and keeping them on our good side will suit us well come the inevitable throttling back on fossil fuel supply.
However, veiled beneath this seemingly uncharacteristically farsighted decision is a deceptively evil motive. At the very heart of the entire agreement lies a single key set of words; ‘sustainable use of the Arctic and it’s energy resources’. Now, to anybody who knows just an atom of stuff on the Arctic, its energy resources, and its current state in the global climate, you will instantly take umbrage and offence to this claim.
This, to me at least, is the crux of it. The Arctic is melting at a faster rate than nature has experienced for hundreds of thousands of years, with plenty of evidence for these rates increasing, and with this melt comes some interesting things. As land previously covered in ice is revealed and permafrost, bogs and peatland warm up, the number of oil, coal and gas reserves generated by millennia of pressure, will skyrocket.
So, when someone says they’re motive is to ‘sustainably utilise’ these fossil fuel resources, of which are no doubt being revealed at an accelerated rate due to burning of the very same things, alarm bells instantly begin ringing in my head. Sustainable, fossil fuels, and a melting Arctic just shouldn’t be in the same sentence, let alone the same room.
This agreement is also seen by many as opening the door to multiple large and powerful fossil fuel companies and drilling conglomerates to milk the UK and it’s money to finance their moves into this warming gold mine, or should that be oil mine (?), until every last drop is drunk and the climate soars over 2-3˚C. Why this may seem slightly premature, theres plenty of evidence to suggest that Norwegian fuel giants will have no qualms in pushing us Brits and Cameron around when it comes to crunch time.
Statoil, a Norwegian behemoth of fossil fuel supply has known to have threatened the UK in the past, warning that there ‘are other place we can sell our gas to aside from the UK’. What’s worrying is that Norway has this very power in its hands if wishes to wield it in the future, as not only are the Northern European nations of Scandinavia and further doing very well economically, politically and socially, but providing over 1/4 of our energy gives them one hell of a noose to tighten.
A further worrying prospect comes from knowledge that Cameron and Putin may be in the process of striking a deal to build a new gas pipeline from Russia to the UK, securing yet more future ‘low-carbon’ natural gas, but opening us up to the ever increasingly corrupt, politically unstable and resource-rich Russian government. I for one am pretty scared.
Again, this instantly should open the subject up to renewables; generating our own electricity from solar, wind or tidal is not only becoming rapidly cheaper and more efficient, but undeniably secures the energy within our own borders - you can’t hold the Sun or blowing wind to ransom when things aren’t going your way and threaten to cut them off to a nation should they annoy you. However, given the effort and money going into shouting natural gas’ huge advantages over coal and oil in terms of reduced emissions and cheaper acquisition, it seems that renewables are going to have a tough fight with gas in the coming years.
One saving grace being touted alongside this agreement is that of CCS, carbon-capture and storage, which although has the potential to greatly reduce carbon emissions from all walks of fossil fuel life, has yet to even get off the ground in the UK, and is very slow to gain financing and support in those nations who are all over it, Norway being one of them.
To put our faith in a technology as yet untested, and one that simply cleans up an already irreversibly dirty set of industries, I feel is far from progress in both the energy and climate realms.