- Cheap oil from the Middle East is the problem.

Arctic Frontiers in Tromsø, Norway, has opened. The economist Jeffrey Sachs (in the center of the interview cluster in the image) drew attention when arguing that Saudi Arabia is the low-cost supplier of oil, but that no one dare say it out loud because it is difficult from a geopolitical point of view. (Photo: Linda Storholm)
- The brutal truth is that Saudia Arabia is the low-price supplier of oil. But no one dare say it, because it is difficult from a geopolitical perspective, says Jeffrey Sachs.

- The brutal truth is that Saudia Arabia is the low-price supplier of oil. But no one dare say it, because it is difficult from a geopolitical perspective, says Jeffrey Sachs.

The world-known economist belled the cat during the first debate at this year’s Arctic Frontiers. He was on the panel together with among others the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who had to respond when Sachs moved on to point out that these low-cost reserves must be pumped up if we are to produce more oil. We should not drill for new resources.

- That is not a good idea. You either lose your money or you destroy the earth, so it’s a loss situation in either case, Sachs said.

But Erna Solberg was quick to point out something Sachs forgot: Producing a barrel of oil is far more polluting in Saudia Arabia than in Norway.

- It is thus wrong to say that they should continue producing if one does not try to do something about the enormous pollution it represents, she says.


Energy and security are related

Solberg was also clear that one cannot discuss energy politics without also discussing security politics at the same time. Both she and the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, are crystal clear: The challenges are global, and global solutions are needed. No country can solve the climate challenges on its own.

- The climate changes force cooperation; no one can solve this challenge alone. But it also requires social and financial development. But we have to handle those conflicts of interest, says Wallström.


Must live with the consequences

“A changing Arctic” was the theme of the debate, which quickly  moved towards CO2 emissions and oil exploration. Young Friends of the Earth-leader Ingrid Skjoldvær represented the next generation.

- We have to live with the consequences of what the political leaders of the world do now, she says. Skjoldvær considers it a huge paradox that while the powerful assembly at the University in Tromsø discuss the climate, an oil rig is anchored outside the city and soon ready to conduct oil exploration in the Barents Sea.


Norway’s forked tongue

Erna Solberg was challenged by BBC anchor Stephen Sackur, who moderated the discussion, regarding Norway’s petroleum policies:

- I know that Norway and the other Nordic countries do a lot of domestic good, however, the oil you export from Norway pollutes the globe and contributes to CO2 emissions, nevertheless. How do you defend this?

- We cannot solve the CO2 emissions through cutting oil production in Norway, as long as there is a global demand for oil, Solberg says.

Sackur said this is an attitude anyone can have, and then no one will take responsibility for cutting. Solberg, on the other hand, was clear that Norway will continue producing oil.

- We will also keep up the pressure for increasing prices on CO2 emissions. By increasing the price on CO2 emissions, those with the lowest emissions “win”, and then the environment wins too, Solberg argues.

The Arctic Frontiers conference opened in Tromsø, Norway, today. Around 2,000 participants are gathered to discuss Arctic politics, business, environment and research for one week.

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