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, 42, 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 over a cup of coffee." This emphasis on finding solutions, rather than clinging to ideology, also informs his stance on carbon capture and storage, whereby CO2 from energy production is deposited deep underground. Some green groups scoff at this practice, but Hauge sees it as crucial to reducing emissions.
In Oslo, everyone seems to know Hauge, and his far-reaching connections are key to his effectiveness. For example, Bellona's corporate and political links helped Swedish automaker Saab launch a bio-ethanol car in Norway last year. But Bellona doesn't limit itself to working in Scandinavia. A 1996 report from the group famously exposed the grave environmental threats posed by Russia's aging nuclear submarine fleet. It landed Alexander Nikitin, a former Soviet naval captain and Bellona employee, in jail on treason charges. (He was later acquitted.) Whether cleaning up Norway or dressing down Moscow, "the only thing I'm more afraid of than environmental threats is apathy," says Hauge, while drifting in the Oslofjord aboard Bellona's patrol boat. With Hauge at the helm, there's little danger of that.
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