Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor
“When you’re in a hole stop digging.” I don’t know if it was a Briton or a Norwegian who first said that but it’s true.
Because we cannot tackle the climate emergency by extracting more oil and gas from the land and the sea.
We all know that we cannot carry on with business-as-usual. That without a rapid and just transition to a clean energy future we will leave an ever more unstable and dangerous world for our children and grandchildren to inherit.
We also know that we cannot get to net zero on our own. That the UK cannot become a “clean energy superpower” without working with other countries. Research. Technology. Skills. Infrastructure. All critical to our success. All areas where Norway can help us.
It’s fairly obvious that Norway has done a better job of managing its fossil fuel resources than we have in the UK. From a GDP per capita rate lower than the United States and UK in the 1940s Norway is now regularly first or second on the UN’s Human Development Index (the UK is down in 18th place in the most recent report).
Norway’s sovereign wealth funds are a large part of the story. Taking a stake in more than 9,000 companies, across 70 countries. Investing the earnings from oil to safeguard and build wealth for future generations.
It’s that model that I hope to replicate in the North East of England. A regional wealth fund of £500 million could create 14,000 jobs. Investing in businesses across the region. Adding to our pipeline of more than 5,000 jobs already – a decade ahead of our target from government. Building a more prosperous North East for the generations to follow.
And building on the strong shared history between Britain and Norway. Unsurprising when you consider that it’s less than 600 miles from Newcastle to Oslo. A history that dates back to the age of the Vikings. Shared struggle in war. Shared prosperity in peace. Times when Britain was able to offer Norwegian democracy a safe haven and times when Norway could offer a safe haven for others.
The more we can work together the more confident I am that we will meet the challenge posed by climate change. Creating jobs and delivering the tools to dig us out of this hole. A bright and energetic future for all of us.