Wednesday, January 26

We do not have to choose climate measures. We must implement all.

  • Sigrun Aasland

    Leader, Miljøstiftelsen ZERO

One of climate policy’s biggest problems has long been incomprehensible reference paths and diffuse goals that lie several decades ahead, the debater writes. The picture shows the Sermilikfjord in East Greenland.

Climate policy is delayed by difficult calculations. We can now put them away.

This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.

During three decades of climate policy, global emissions have increased, and Norwegian emissions have stood still. It is not very uplifting. The sum of all countries’ climate policies is not enough to avert catastrophic changes on Earth. Nevertheless, the prospects for emission cuts in the years to come are far better now than they were just a few years ago.

Three changes give me hope that it is possible to succeed.

Diffuse and abstract measurements

Firstly, there is no longer any doubt that the climate problem exists and must be solved. Many have pointed out that the seriousness was deeper in Glasgow than at previous climate summits. Almost all the leaders of all nations now recognize that something must be done if the world is to avoid large refugee flows, extreme weather and destroyed livelihoods.

Secondly, abstract climate goals have become concrete national policies that it is possible to argue about. One of the biggest problems in climate policy has long been incomprehensible reference paths and diffuse goals that lie several decades ahead. When the goals have not been reached, both goals and politicians have long since been replaced.

Sigrun Aasland leads the environmental foundation ZERO.

Will cost a lot of money

We now know that the transport sector must be electrified, that hydrogen is a vital energy carrier, that coal must be replaced by renewable energy throughout the world, and that we will have to capture and store CO₂. More and more people are also realizing that the task can only be solved if the costs of restructuring are distributed more fairly than today. We can stop discussing which climate measures we should prioritize.

Everything must be done. Anyone who wants to take something out must put something else in.

When the goals have not been reached, both goals and politicians have long since been replaced

If we take all the measures from Klimakur from 2020, add on all the industry’s own proposals from Process 21 and plus a few more, the goal of a 55 per cent cut by 2030 is demanding, but possible. It will only cost a lot of money.


Therefore, the third realization that gives me some hope is about grandchildren and the value of what is ahead of us. We treat the future as a distant colony where we dump our waste and our problems, writes Roman Krznaric in the book “How to think long-term”. Our inability to value the future is a well-known phenomenon in the behavioral economy.

But here, too, something is about to change: grandchildren. In the election campaign, Prime Minister-designate Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) stated that he had promised his grandchildren to solve the climate crisis. In Glasgow, Tuvalu’s finance minister Seve Paeniu presented his grandchildren with a prayer that they would have a country to live in. The future has come closer, and we can see it now.

The future has a value

Climate risk outvalget in 2018 stated that if we fail, the consequences are so catastrophic that it does not even make sense to quantify them. Probably expensive climate measures are still the cheapest, even if the gain only comes a generation or two in time.

The Climate Risk Committee and the grandchildren each represent their own end of facts and feelings. But they have in common two important insights that the climate issue needs. First, that the downside is infinite. Secondly, that the future has a value, when it only comes close enough.

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