Norwegian-British energy seminar: Opening speech
It is a great pleasure to be here at the Royal Geographical Society to address this seminar on the future of the UK–Norway energy and climate partnership.
I am very much looking forward to tomorrow's big event, the official opening of the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, an example of how offshore wind production is providing both renewable energy and a basis for closer technology and business cooperation between the UK and Norway.
United by our history and by the North Sea, our two countries have a strong and deeply rooted relationship. We work closely together at the international level to promote sound climate policies, democratic values and progress towards the millennium development goals. We also have a long history of bilateral cooperation in areas such as energy, defence, research and business. More than 300 Norwegian companies operate in the UK.
The cornerstone of UK–Norwegian relations today is the energy sector. The UK is the most important export market for Norway, with more than 90 % of these exports comprising oil and gas.
Today’s seminar reflects the strong UK–Norwegian relationship in this area.
Two topics will be highlighted here today that are closely interconnected: energy security and sustainable growth.
Today, 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity. Moreover, 2.7 billion are without safe, accessible and clean cooking fuel. Last October, I attended a high-level conference in Oslo named “Energy for All”. Partners from all over the world were invited by the International Energy Agency and Norway. The purpose of the conference was to mobilise sufficient funding to achieve access to energy for all by 2030. This is a vital aspect of the wider challenge of securing sustainable energy for all. Affordable energy and prospects of economic growth are crucial for lifting millions of people out of poverty.
At the same time, the scientific findings are clear: our climate is showing signs of change that go beyond natural variability.
For example: On September 16th, Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its minimum extent for the year of 3.4 million square kilometres. This is the lowest seasonal minimum extent since the satellite recordings started in 1979 and reinforces the long-term downward trend in Arctic ice extent.
The pace and scope of the climate change caused by our emissions of greenhouse gases are deeply worrying. We therefore face a serious global challenge in the years to come: How can we ensure security of energy supply for as many as possible in a climate-friendly and sustainable way? One answer to this is that an increasing share of the world’s energy supply will have to be obtained from zero carbon or low carbon energy sources.
Norway has been blessed with vast natural resources. We place great emphasis on managing these resources in a responsible and sustainable manner to the benefit of Norwegian society as a whole and to future generations. In addition to our long history of oil and gas extraction, Norway has more than a hundred years’ experience of producing renewable hydropower.
We are also committed to developing and utilizing other renewable energy sources, domestically and in cooperation with other countries. On the basis of our broad experience, a strong Norwegian energy industry has emerged, an industry which is expanding abroad.
Off the coast of Norfolk, UK national and local authorities have joined forces with two Norwegian companies, Statoil and Statkraft, to establish a wind farm that produce clean energy for more than 200 000 homes. Sheringham Shoal is a significant and tangible step forward to reach UK's ambitious goal that 30 % of the UK's electricity shall come from clean energy sources by 2020. There is no question that Britain is a world leader in wind energy.
I hope this seminar will further strengthen cooperation between our two countries in the field of energy and sustainable growth.
I am confident that it will be a stimulating and rewarding event for us all. I wish you a successful seminar.