Raising environmental concerns in Norway, where oil and gas account for about a quarter of GDP and fund a vast national pension system, might seem like a thankless job. But it’s a crucial one. After all, the nation’s energy riches give it a remarkable chance to bankroll environmental innovation, says Frederic Hauge, CEO of Bellona, an Oslo-based environmental NGO that he co-founded in 1986. “We’re a nice little selfish country of petroholics,” he says. “And that gives us an extreme moral obligation to use some of that welfare to develop the technologies we need.”
Hauge’s powerfully pragmatic approach is to collaborate with heavy industry, not battle it. Bellona aims to help oil majors such as Norway’s StatoilHydro and Anglo-Dutch giant Shell to become greener enterprises. Hauge doesn’t always see eye to eye with big business, but executives at companies like these appreciate Bellona‘s sound grasp of science — his staff of 60 includes engineers and physicists — and value what he describes as his willingness to “sit down and discuss solutions”.