Tag: norway

Double standards in Norwegian environmental culture?

Norway: Environmental hero or hypocrite?” was the question the Financial Times asked a year ago. As a resident in Norway for the last decade and with a background of research and innovation, I have long been concerned with the same question.

Norway has implemented a number of measures for a green shift. For example, power generation is mainly based on renewable sources, and the number of electric cars per capita is the largest in the world. Nevertheless, the waste volume in Norway increased by 7% while recycling decreased 1% from 2013 to 2014.

I was a research scientist at SINTEF between November 2012 and February this year. During these years, I have been concerned that there are no trash cans for sorting food waste, plastic, bottles, glass and metal, while there are plastic cups in each kitchen at the SINTEF offices in Oslo.

I believe that an organisation researching technology to fight global warming should “eat its own dog food”. A year ago, I suggested that the SINTEF administration in Oslo should reduce waste volume and increase recycling. Despite multiple reminders, they have never returned to me.

SINTEF is probably not the only organisation that does not sort its waste, but if not even a research organisation takes responsibility for the environment, then Norway has a problem with environmental culture.

While we wait for the authorities to force businesses to tackle the problem, tonnes of recyclable trash are thrown away as mixed waste every day. Is it not time to quit the double standards and actually start implementing a comprehensive green shift? The alternative is to get a reputation that is hard to get rid of: being an environmental hypocrite.

The original version of this article was published in Norwegian in Aftenposten on June 2017.

Six months in Oslo—Life of a researcher in the capital of Norway

26 November 2012 at 3:00 in the morning. I was sitting on the bed of my bare room in Bergen, overwhelmed with fear and excitement, looking at my life packed into suitcases, backpacks, and boxes, and staring at my one-way ticket for the earliest morning flight to Oslo: “Will I like Oslo?”, “Will I enjoy my new life?”, “Will I miss Bergen?” Now, after six months in Oslo, I can finally answer these questions.

The city of Oslo may not have the charm of other western European capitals. It was built when Norway was among the poorest countries in Europe, and it is not difficult to notice. It has little classical architecture, and the one it has is not exactly impressive: even the neoclassical Royal Palace is way too dull to my taste. But Norway is among the richest countries in the world now, and the municipality is finally investing resources to give the city a new touch of contemporary architecture. The Fjord City project aims at opening the city towards the fjord by building housing and recreation on the waterfront part of the city centre. The Opera House in Bjørvika together with the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Tjuvholmen are notable examples of this development. Although controversial, I find these buildings amazing, and I believe that, together with the upcoming buildings such as the new Munch Museum in Bjørvika, they are going to give a unique character to the city.

Another distinctive feature of Oslo is that its people can be quite diverse. The various areas of Oslo have all different atmosphere, with Grünerløkka (Oslo East) featuring rather laid-back people and Frogner (Oslo West) featuring rather posh people—to the point that “vestkantgutt” (literally west side boys) is a common Norwegian expression to denote daddy’s boys. This heterogeneity is unique in Norway, where otherwise the law of Jante preserves uniformity across the society. Now there is good and bad with the law of Jante, and I must confess that I have incorporated some of these values into myself after many years in Norway, but one of its bad sides is that it tends to deprive people of significance. I find it interesting that this phenomenon is less evident in Oslo, where people are less afraid to show that they are successful.

I bought a new flat in Rodeløkka, north of Grünerløkka. It cost me a fortune, but it increased my quality of life dramatically 🙂 I have met plenty of charming people so far, both international and Norwegians, which made my social life enjoyable. I am also satisfied with my new job at SINTEF, where I am currently working on some challenging but stimulating EU projects—namely PaaSage, MODAClouds, and Broker@Cloud, for those interested. All in all, life has never been so good, and, to be honest, I have never really missed Bergen.