Climate change therapy

I have started this blog to help myself deal with the fears and worries I have about climate change. My aim is to write regular posts about climate change and about my experiences as an activist and person living in a world dealing with the reality of climate change. My hope is that this process will help me deal with the difficult feelings I have, and in turn inspire me to embrace the challenges we all face with enthusiasm and hope for the future of our planet and future generations. I’m also  reaching out to all of you who share my concerns and haven’t given up hope on stabilising our climate. By creating community and building solidarity we can better face up to the challenge of climate change and inspire each other to create a better future based on respect, solidarity, fairness and harmony with each other and our environment.

For a more in depth idea of what Climate change therapy is about I recommend this post.



Everyday activism

Hello everyone. It’s been far too long since my last post. There are a number of reasons for this, not least of all getting married in the autumn. Another reason is that it was really difficult to keep up writing extensive thought pieces every week. I have therefore decided to try posting more shorter pieces, observations and thoughts to keep the blog active and updated. I plan on writing longer pieces too from time to time but not with the same frequency as before as this is just not sustainable, and sustainability is what this blog is all about!

I thought I would start this then by sharing something very inspiring that happened to me on the way home from work today. I was stopped by two school girls who asked me if I would like to support a campaign against oil pollution in Nigeria. The girls were very informed about the problems and told me about the unethical and polluting practice of “flaring” ( simply burning excess gas from mining rather than disposing of it properly) that the oil companies engage in there. This has devastated local fishing and agriculture in the area and brought about mass poverty. It also unnecessarily adds large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere. They told me about the lack of accountability of oil companies there and how the Norwegian state owned Statoil are invested in the region.

They sold me two tasty looking pieces of chocolate cake they had baked for just 40kr! The money goes to an organisation called Operasjon Dagsverk that raises awareness about the issue and donates money to community projects in Nigeria. I felt afterwards I maybe should have given them more. I may go on to the website to do that afterwards. You can too! Or simply find out more. Here is the link. There is also a page in English.

I thought this was an inspiring example of how everyday activism can make a difference. It really brightened my day.

Operasjon Dagsverk

P.S To help keep the blog active I would like to invite people to contribute to it! This can be anything from writing a piece to sharing an article or observation. The inspiration for this blog was to encourage participation in any form. So everything is welcome. Send contributions to the Facebook page or my E-mail address




What if it’s already too late?


This is a thought that I struggle with a lot. I set up this blog to inspire (myself and others) but also to deal with difficult feelings about climate change.  If difficult feelings remain unaddressed they lead to feelings of hopelessness. This in turn leads to more avoidance and inaction and so ad infinitum. So let us try to deal with one of the most difficult feelings that I suffer from, and one which I am sure I am not alone in having.

What if we are heading for catastrophic warming and it is already too late for us to do anything about it? To examine this I will have to engage in a rather bleak analysis of our current situation which I hope you will forgive me for.

According to the IPCC there remains a certain amount of carbon, referred to as the “carbon budget” that we are able to emit without instigating dangerous levels of global warming. At our current rate of emissions that budget will be eaten up within 11 years. Our climate is on the brink. The problem with this target however is that it is based on 2 degrees of warming, a maximum set by politicians not scientists. Many scientists do not consider this degree of warming to be safe and would rather warming stayed well below 2 degrees.

In addition to this, recent observation of our climate shows it to be even more sensitive to warming than we previously thought. Recent conditions in the Arctic for example have shocked scientists who have described them as “beyond even the extreme”. Record low amounts of ice are being recorded. The Antarctic currently has the lowest amount of sea ice on record. Polar ice sheets play a vital role in stabilising our climate by reflecting heat back into space. There comes a point were the receding of ice caps can breach a tipping point, causing the earth to continue warming beyond our control. We still need to observe the polar ice caps over more years to ascertain whether the current conditions represent an acceleration in polar ice melt or just an anomaly.

I will be crossing my fingers for the latter but I am still plagued by the worrying thought that we have already missed our chance of a stable climate. The continued sluggishness of a global response to the crisis (and one of the largest emitting countries electing a climate change denier as its president) make me also worry that even if we do have time to turn things around, our current political and economic system just isn’t capable of doing what is necessary to stabilise our climate in time.

How do we deal with these sorts of feelings? They are after all based on a frank assessment of things as they stand. I can’t confess to have any answers but I think one of the first things we need to do is to begin to talk openly about them. I think there is often a well meaning tendency to avoid openly addressing these fears in the environmental movement so as not to put people off. I think it is probably fair to say I have been guilty of this at times in this blog. I think this is a mistake however. Not addressing the elephant in the room can come across as disingenuous. People have an uncanny knack of picking up on dishonesty (well-intentioned or not) and are turned off by it.

Difficult though it is I believe we have to start preparing for the possibility of the scenario I have described. I think there is a fear that openly doing so will cause people to simply throw their hands up and stop fighting for our climate and for justice for the millions of people who are suffering due to climate change today and in the future. I would like to challenge this nihilistic way of thinking. If it really is the case that we are heading for dramatic and destructive climate change then that is all the more reason to double down and start treating our environment with the respect it has deserved all along. After all, nature as we know it may not be around for much longer. Some reports say one in six species face extinction. Let’s appreciate what we have while we still can, and lets extend that appreciation and respect to every person on this planet. We won’t do that by continuing the reckless and destructive smash-and-grab economy that lays to waste our planet and many of the most vulnerable people on it. Let’s create the zero carbon society that will take back control from the vested interests of fossil fuel companies; that will bring autonomy and respect to some of the worlds poorest and most powerless and help the fight against inequality and injustice. Let’s do it while we still have the chance, and who knows, we may just bring the climate back from the brink in the process.

From depression to inspiration


I have to confess I have been getting pretty depressed about Trump. This is probably why you haven’t seen so many posts from me lately. The first few weeks of his presidency have offered no surprises given his election campaign. It is nevertheless that much more shocking when his promises actually become reality. Silencing critics and imposing gagging orders on scientists . Persecuting and scapegoating minorities. This is all too  worryingly familiar. The parallels between the U.S today and Europe in the 30’s are very concerning indeed.

The rules have changed and the urgency for a fightback has become even more acute. This is no time to get despondent. Quite the opposite in fact.

With this in mind I went to a demonstration outside the Norwegian parliament in Oslo, protesting Trump’s travel ban and pressuring Norwegian politicians to condemn it. It was probably the best attended demo I have been to outside the Norwegian parliament since I have moved here. Impressive given that it was only organised on 48 hours notice. The speeches at the demo focused primarily on the travel ban but included a whole range of issues like the environment, the need to protect independent science, the rights of all minorities and the right for everyone to have a critical voice in the public discourse. All of these issues got large cheers from the crowd. It made me think that if there is anything positive to take from Trump’s presidency it is that he may be organising and unifying forces against him that have previously never worked together or seen the need to. Suddenly the environmental movement, the movement for racial equality and the feminist movement have a focal point and a critical need to form new ties and reach out to new people.

I was therefore very pleased to find this article a few days later from The article expresses the need for environmentalists to work more closely with other movements that are fighting for social justice. There is a consistency in what they are fighting for and who they are fighting against it argues. I couldn’t agree more. We are all fighting for a planet that we can live on in dignity and in harmony with ourselves and our environment. A world that offers peace and prosperity for everyone and not the few, not just for the people of today but for the coming generations.

I haven’t given up hope on creating that world and I am excited about the possibilities that new allegiances can bring to this effort.


Where do we go from here?

2016 was quite a year. It was the hottest year on record. Each month of the year smashing all previous temperature records. We also saw record amounts of ice melt in the arctic and antarctic. A quarter of the Great Barrier Reef was destroyed due to coral bleaching, a phenomenon caused by rising ocean temperatures. It ought to leave little doubt that man made climate change is well under way.

Despite this we are about to see a climate change denier take the office of U.S. president, surrounded by a team of climate change deniers. The election of Trump was one of many events of 2016 that has left a growing feeling of uncertainty, fear and in many cases despair.

2016 wasn’t all doom and gloom for the environment however. There has also been much cause for optimism and hope. 2016 saw a huge surge in the investment and production of renewable energy. The price of solar panels has dropped dramatically and is now becoming a genuine competitor to fossil fuels on the energy market. The term “stranded assets” applied to investments in the fossil fuel industry has made its way into the political mainstream, with many politicians, business people and investors starting to view the fossil fuel industry as a dying industry.

2016 has also seen remarkable victories for grassroots campaigning too. The victory at Standing Rock showed how much can be achieved by global solidarity and campaigning in the face of powerful and ruthless opposition.

There is every reason to be hopeful but absolutely no reason to be complacent. There is still a huge amount to do to create a secure and prosperous future for ourselves and our children in harmony with our environment.

Which brings me to a question I have been asking myself. Where do I go from here? I have been enjoying a bit of a hiatus from blogging and being active over the winter holiday period but am now ready to get going again.

I have already had a few thoughts about what to do myself in 2017.

  1. I would like to get more involved in a local environmental organisation. I have a few in mind including one I am already a member of and will be documenting my experiences of getting involved in this blog.
  2. There is a really exciting conference coming up in February in Oslo called Systems Change that I will be attending and blogging about. The conference is about the need for system change to prevent climate change and ways to implement new systems.

Another question is where does the blog go from here? I have really appreciated the kind encouragement and feedback many of you have given me privately. If you have enjoyed the blog then it would be great if you could leave a comment on the page about what you have enjoyed and what you would like to see in the future.

Finally, where do we go from here? What are the priorities for environmentalism and social justice going forward? There seems to be a feeling of optimism and momentum in the environmental movement right now that I haven’t experienced before despite the huge setback of the election of Trump. Maintaining this momentum and inspiring hope is the best way to defeat the politics of Trump. We have to build a movement towards a sustainable future that is so powerful that not even the president of the United States will be able to stop it.

Solidarity with Kurdistan



I attended another political seminar in Oslo recently titled “Solidaritet med Kurdistan” (solidarity with Kurdistan) run by an organisation of the same name.

I found the seminar very inspiring and felt it contained some really important lessons for the environmental movement and political activism in general, which is why I have chosen to include it in this blog.

There were four main presentations at the seminar, each one covering a different area of Kurdistan, North, West, East and South. Kurdistan is not in itself a sovereign state but an area divided by the borders of four countries where Kurdish people form a prominent majority of the population. The northern part is within Turkey’s borders, the north western part within Syria, the eastern part within Iran and the southern part is within the borders of Iraq. The Kurdish people have fought a long struggle for basic human rights, the right to speak their own language and the right to cultural expression. A struggle that has been met with brutal oppression by their host nation states. The Turkish state for example have exploited the recent failed coup to impose a crack down on the Kurdish people, occupying Kurdish areas, arresting pro-Kurdish elected politicians and murdering men, women and children from the Kurdish civilian population.  The recent arrival of ISIS has also given the Kurdish people a new brutal and ruthless enemy. Despite being under attack from all sides however Kurdish militias have fought back against ISIS with remarkable bravery and have shown time and again to be the most effective fighting force against ISIS on the ground, imposing significant defeats on the terrorist group and liberating key areas from their control.

Perhaps the most interesting talk (they were all excellent) was about the Northwestern region of Kurdistan known as Rojava. Erling Folkvord told us about the remarkable project underway of building a democratic and secular society in the areas that Kurdish militias now have under their control in northern Syria. The democratic model is based upon the principles of direct local democracy, gender equality and rights of religious and ethnic minorities. Another cornerstone of the democratic model is that of sustainability and ecology. This democratic model is also practised by pro Kurdish politicians in local councils in Turkey that are currently being forcefully repressed by the Turkish government.  I encourage anyone interested to read up about Rojava. It is at present just a fledgling society under threat from all sides, staving off attacks from Turkish forces in the north and attacks from ISIS from the south. Just how successful it will be remains to be seen, but its emergence in the most extreme and difficult of circumstances is a true inspiration. Experiences from Rojava can provide an important reference for movements the world over aiming to build a fairer society based on direct democracy.

The way the conference was run had some important lessons about public engagement and participation too. I had arranged to go with a friend but she was unfortunately ill on the day so I ended up going on my own. Upon arrival I was immediately greeted by the organisers and asked if I would be eating lunch at the conference, a delicious spread of Kurdish food for a mere 50 krones, very cheap by Norwegian standards. They also asked me general friendly quesitons about who I was and about my interest in Kurdistan. This made me feel immediately at ease and happy to be there. It sounds really obvious but it is something unfortunately neglected at a lot of political events in my experience. After lunch we were invited to try a Kurdish ring dance. I needed very little encouragement and sprang immediately up to the dance floor, finding myself to be the only man standing there. One woman declared me to be the “bravest man in the room” which was a touching compliment. I wasn’t a novice however as I had actually been taught some Kurdish dance through my work running music workshops in asylum centres in and around Oslo. As we were dancing one of the women said “This is our strongest weapon in the fight against Daesh (ISIS)” reminding me of the power of culture and celebration in building common identity and hope in social movements.

This inclusive celebratory atmosphere left me at ease and when the floor was opened up for questions during the talks and panel debate I found my hand raising powered purely by curiosity and virtually unhindered by feelings of doubt which I have talked about in a previous post.

During the panel debate I asked a question about how sustainability and ecology featured in the democratic project in Rojava. This was unfortunately not answered during the debate as the debate and questions from the floor became largely focused on discussions about the importance of cultural and national identity and what Kurdish freedom and liberation actually means in practice. The panel seemed to come to a general consensus that Kurdish people could only achieve liberation through a wider struggle for human rights, but that we must not forget that many Kurds enter this struggle from the viewpoint of being Kurdish, motivated by protecting and promoting cultural expression and their right to be Kurds. It was a really fascinating discussion.

After the debate one of the panellists came up to me and apologised that there was not enough time to talk about ecology in the debate and told me everything she knew on the subject. This included stories of using primarily sustainable and environmentally friendly materials in the reconstruction of Kobane, protection of environmental and cultural sites from destruction (including a cultural site due to be bulldozed in order to build a hydroelectric power station, an important reminder that renewable energy can’t repeat the mistakes of the fossil fuel industry if it is to succeed) and local activists setting up markets for people to exchange clothes and commodities in Turkish Kurdistan. If people can think about sustainability and the environment in the harshest of circumstances in Kurdistan then just think what we can achieve in regions not plagued by war and conflict. The possibilities are endless. I hope that you, like me are inspired to get out there and make them happen.



Victory to Standing Rock!


An incredible victory! Yesterday the U.S army corps of engineers announced that it would not grant the final permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline! An environmental review  will instead be conducted and alternative routes explored that do not pass under the Missouri river.

As far as I’m concerned the victory will not be complete until the pipeline is stopped in its entirety.

For now though I feel it’s important to mark an incredible moment for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. I am just brimming with joy and gratefulness to them for the bravery and sacrifice they have made for the future of every person on this earth. I really can’t thank them enough.


This victory has given us something infinitely valuable. Hope.

This could be the turning point for the environmental movement and anyone taking on the the might of corporations trying to ride roughshod over communities rights to a sustainable and dignified future.

It shows what solidarity and an unshakeable belief in human rights can achieve no matter how humble its origins, no matter how powerful its foe. The Dakota Access Pipeline project is a multi-billion dollar project that has had the backing of a ruthless and violent state police department that has been trying for months now to break the will and bodies of the protesters at the prayer camps. Protesters who initially had nowhere near the kind of resources and powerful friends that the Dakota Access Pipeline project has. By standing firm and reaching out to an international community they have managed to score this most remarkable of victories. This shows that there is no end to what we can achieve when we stand together!


Stand with Standing Rock


I said in my last post that I would be looking at important campaigns to get involved and there are few more important than the campaign right now to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect the ancestral homelands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

There are plans to build a pipeline dubbed by many as “The Black Snake” under the Missouri River immediately upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. The pipeline aims to carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day. This threatens the water supply, sacred places and future of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. It is also a disaster for the climate.

A camp has been set up to oppose the pipeline by indigenous people and activists collectively known as “The water protectors”. These people have been met with shock grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. Their crime; peacefully occupying land that is rightfully theirs under a US treaty.

December has been declared a global month of action against the pipeline. There are events and campaigns all over the world in solidarity with standing rock some of which can be found here.

There is a demonstration in Oslo this Thursday that I will be attending

Hope to see all my readers from Oslo there! Let me know if you are going!

I also have an ambitious plan of trying to do something every day of this month that directly or indirectly supports Standing Rock.

Does anyone want to join me in my ambitious plan? Who’s with me?

Ideas so far aside from demonstrating on Thursday are

  1. Donating money to Standing Rock
  2. Signing the petition against the Dakota Access pipeline
  3. Posting pictures on the Solidarity with Standing Rock tumblr page
  4. E-mailing a member of parliament to ask them to pledge support to Standing rock and condemn the DAPL
  5. Requesting that banks withdraw their funding of the DAPL project

This still leaves me 25 days short. Anyone got any other ideas of things that could be done? Post them here in the comments!



Facing up to the truth of our climate


The first step in dealing with a problem is to face up to the reality of it. Facing up to the reality of our climate is not a comfortable thing to do. I put it off for years and instead carried around thoughts in my head that oscillated from ; “It’s really bad isn’t it?” to “It will probably sort itself out though won’t it?”

When I finally did face up to it, reading up on it in books and scientific reports I was pretty shocked. I knew it was serious but I didn’t realise quite how serious it was. After the initial shock came a feeling of desperation. Once the reality of it set in though I was able to turn my thoughts to what part I could play in solving our environmental crisis. In my best moments I feel truly inspired by this. I am also inspired by the possibilities that solving our climate crisis can have for our society. It is going to take one almighty collective effort to avert climate crisis, and that collective effort alone has the power to transform our society in remarkable ways. I strongly believe that finding solutions to climate change can empower people and communities and play a powerful role in building a better society based on justice, respect and sustainable prosperity for the many and not the few. More on that in later posts, for now let us get back to the situation as it stands.

This is my summation of the current situation based mostly on two books I have read; This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein and Storms of my Grandchildren by James Hansen but also a number of reports, articles and videos I have seen (most significantly the IPCC reports) that support the picture of the overall situation described in those two books.

Our climate is in peril. We are currently heading towards dramatic changes to our climate that will have very severe consequences for all life on this planet, not least of all the human race. With our current rate of CO2 emissions we are on course for four degrees of warming by the end of the century. The consequences of this are almost unimaginable. The resulting sea level rise will mean island states like the Maldives are simply wiped off the map. Areas like California and Holland will most likely be permanently evacuated. Major cities like London, New York and Shanghai would be in serious jeopardy. Brutal heat waves and violent storms would kill tens of thousands alone, and this is before we consider the impact of major crop failures and social chaos due to ever-increasing migrating populations.

If that sounds bad it gets worse. Four degrees of warming will almost certainly see the passing of major tipping points that will send the climate spinning out of our control. Many experts believe there is a real danger of this happening even at two degrees of warming. The hotter the planet gets the more the arctic ice sheet retreats. The arctic ice sheet reflects heat from the sun back out to space. If global warming were to bring about the collapse of the ice shelves in the arctic ice sheet then it wouldn’t matter how much we reduce our emissions, it would already be too late. The planet would continue to warm triggering other major tipping points such as the melting of the permafrost in the tundra, in turn releasing huge amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere which has a greenhouse effect 11 times more powerful than CO2.

The consequences of this are so severe that it threatens the very future of our species.

These nightmare scenarios are of course not inevitable. We have the resources and technology necessary to prevent them. What we are lacking is the will from our political establishment to take on the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry. The fossil fuel industry has its claws firmly grasped on our political system; it is estimated that it spends around 440,000 dollars a day lobbying the US congress. Since the adoption of the Kyoto protocol in 1992 designed to reduce carbon emissions, we have instead seen a huge spurt in the growth of carbon emissions. This has left us severely running out of time. If we do not start making significant reductions to carbon emissions within the next decade then the hope of a future without dangerous climate change may be out of our reach.

The recent Paris agreement gives some cause for optimism but there are still major flaws with the agreement. The individual commitments made by nation states taken as a whole do not prevent us passing two degrees of warming. It does not address the fact that the fossil fuel industry has in its untapped reserves 5 times the amount of fossil fuel that the earth can tolerate if we are to prevent more than two degrees of warming, and it has every intention of mining every last drop. It is even pursuing more unconventional fossil fuel extraction such as tar sand extraction, which mines bitumen, a dirtier version of conventional crude oil. There is not a strong enough commitment from the signatories of the Paris agreement to take the absolutely necessary steps needed to save our climate.

These steps defined by a growing consensus of climate experts are;

  1. A rapid phasing out of coal within the next 15 years.
  2. A complete and immediate stop to unconventional mining methods such as tar sand, shale oil, shale gas and fracking.
  3. The phasing out of fossil fuels almost in their entirety by the middle of this century.

The Paris agreement is also far too reliant on the “cap-and-trade” system for emissions which has shown itself to be completely ineffective. Its introduction has not brought about any significant reductions in CO2 emissions. This is unsurprising as the fossil fuel industry had a significant role in designing the system, a system it supported so that it could buy the right to continue emitting CO2. Carbon Fee and Dividend would be a far better alternative to cap-and-trade in my opinion.

So were does this leave us?

I firmly believe the only way we can secure a safe future for ourselves and coming generations is by creating a huge groundswell of public support for a carbon free future that will drown out the influence of the fossil fuel industry. A global grassroots movement is already under way and is making significant inroads but it needs more people to the cause and it needs to shout louder. I will be examining some important campaigns that you can get involved in in future posts so stay tuned.



In the meantime please do post any questions, comments or thoughts! Are there any campaigns that you are involved in or aware of that inspire you? Is there anything in this post that you agree with, disagree with or would like to expand on? Would you like references to the information provided in this post? I would really like to hear your thoughts so do leave them in the comments!

Speaking up



At the end of my last post I brought up the the issue of speaking up. Or in this case, not doing so. At the political seminar I was at on Carbon Fee and Dividend I experienced something that has happened to me a few times. During the discussion I wanted to say something but didn’t.

As usual my mind starting making up excuses as to why I shouldn’t say it. Excuses such as That doesn’t really apply in a Norwegian context. Or That question has already been answered in a way.

What I think my mind was really saying though was what if I sound stupid?; What if someone disagrees with my point of view?; Will they get annoyed?; Do I want to deal with that conflict? etc.

These are pretty normal thoughts and feelings when wishing to expressing an opinion. Whether it is at a political event, with friends and family or in public spaces.

So how do we overcome these fears so that we can start to use our voices more actively? I think a good start is to acknowledge the feelings as perfectly natural and not beat yourself up about having them. It doesn’t mean you are a coward or stupid. It means you are a human being.

The next step I believe is to be more open about it. Talk to others about how it can be hard to express opinions. Ask them to share their experiences with you. Try and think about what you can do to make it easier for others to express their opinions.

I believe that activist groups and political parties could do a lot better here. It is such a fundamental part of activism yet is rarely addressed directly in my opinion. So it’s no surprise if people struggle with it. If you are active in a group maybe you could think about what you could do to contribute to an environment where people feel more able to express themselves.

The final thing I believe we can do is to learn to embrace disagreement. Disagreement doesn’t have to be something to be afraid of. Without disagreement nothing changes. Disagreement can spark debate and inspire solutions that improve our world. The more voices that take part in the discourse the better the solutions. So don’t be afraid to speak up!

If you have any thoughts or experiences relating to this then please do leave them in the comments! Speak up! 😉

Carbon Fee and Dividend

Yesterday I went to a mini seminar on “Carbon Fee and Dividend” here in Oslo, (known as “karbonavgift til fordeling” in Norway, or simply “KAF”). The timing of this seminar  was great for me as I have only just finished reading “Storms of my Grandchildren” by the American climate scientist and previous NASA employee James Hansen. Hansen has been a strong proponent of the fee and dividend for many years and is largely responsible for introducing the idea to the environmental movement. He devotes a chapter to it in “Storms of my Grandchildren”, a book I would certainly recommend to any of my readers.

A big part of feeling inspired about a greener future is examining solutions that can get us there so let’s look into Carbon Fee and Dividend.

The idea behind Carbon Fee and Dividend is very simple. As James Hansen says, “As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

Therefore Carbon Fee and Dividend proposes a national tax on all fossil fuels at the point where they enter the national economy; the coal mine, the oil refinery or the shipping port. The collected tax is then redistributed equally to every citizen, directly into your bank account. The rate of the tax is increased incrementally each year until the day fossil fuels have been phased out and there is no longer any need for the tax.

The idea is revolutionary in its simplicity. It is transparent and easy to understand.

An obvious question is; why does the revenue need to be redistributed to all citizens? This is in order to make the tax fair. A rising tax on carbon will  inevitably lead to an increase in prices on products with a large carbon footprint and it is only fair that people, particularly on low incomes are compensated for this in the short term. Another obvious question is; what prevents people from just consuming exactly as they did before and accepting their refund in the form of the dividend? This is theoretically possible but very unlikely to happen in reality. It wouldn’t be long before people start to realise the considerable financial gains they can make by making greener choices. It will also make greener products much more competitive and the market will adjust itself accordingly with more investment and increased availability in greener products, and less in products requiring high CO2 emissions.

The tax is also progressive as people on higher incomes have a larger carbon footprint than people on lower incomes. It is estimated that around 60% of people (on the lower end of the income scale) will actually be better off with such a tax so it should have broad appeal amongst the electorate.

So win win right?

I am personally convinced by the idea but there were some really important questions about its implication raised by people invited to talk at the seminar. Representatives from four political parties and the largest union in Norway all gave their parties’ positions on the tax.

The representatives for SV (Socialist left), MDG (Green party) and V (Liberals) (often seen as the “green bloc” in Norway) were positive to the idea with certain provisos or alterations. The union representative and the representative for AP (Labour party) were much more sceptical. The current parties of government H (Conservatives) and Frp (Progress party) declined their invitation to the debate.

The main criticism of the fee and dividend was that it doesn’t allow for democratically controlled redirection of investment to necessary areas of the economy. It simply leaves the market to “take care of it”.  The union rep was particularly concerned that people in industries with a large carbon footprint who stand to lose jobs are not certain to be compensated with new jobs under fee and dividend. He also argued that certain industries like fishing and agriculture should have a larger “carbon budget” than other industries during the transition to a carbon neutral future as they will be a vital part of a future green economy.

These criticisms were recognised by the proponents of fee and dividend at the seminar. Their answer to them was that fee and dividend is not a solution on its own. There would still need to be mechanisms in place to ensure democratic, long term economic planning for a greener future. Nevertheless they argue, the phasing out of fossil fuels is simply impossible as long as fossil fuels remain the cheapest fuel.

Generally I found the seminar very inspiring. It was good to see people from the environmental movement  and political parties and unions getting together and having a constructive discussion about climate solutions. It shows that with the right kind of political pressure you can get politicians to listen and take you seriously. I appreciate that this is easier in some places than others. The election of Trump has been pretty devastating for lots of reasons, not least for the vulnerable situation minorities will find themselves in the US right now. It is also a big blow to the environment. There has already been movement on how to deal with this threat that I am going to look into in a future post so stay tuned.

There was a question and answer session at the end and I had a question burning on the tip of my tongue but didn’t pluck up the courage to ask it. I am going to E-mail one of the organisers of the seminar with the question and add it to this post when I get his answer. Not having the courage to speak is a frustrating thing that often happens to me at these kind of events and its something I’m sure I’m not alone in. This is a good theme for a future post I think.

As I have said I believe examining solutions is an important part of feeling inspired and getting active so I hope this has inspired you! I’m also really keen to hear your thoughts on Carbon Fee and Dividend so feel free to leave comments 🙂


For more information on Carbon Fee and Dividend click here.