Norway could become leading financial centre through green investment

Publish date: August 26, 2008

Written by: Anne Karin Sæther

Translated by: Ola Innset

STAVANGER -Through heavy investment in clean energy, Norway could become one of the worlds leading financial centre, said Lois Quam, a leading executive with the US- based alternative investment firm Piper Jaffray Companies, at Bellona’s climate seminar in Stavanger this Monday.

Norwegian-American Lois Quam, whose company concentrates on investing in clean energy development, says that Norway has a special opportunity to wager heavily on renewable energies and carbon capture and storage (CCS) – and that the country also has a special responsibility to do so.

“We need you to take on this challenge,” said Quam at the seminar Bellona hosted on Monday, the day before the official opening of the Offshore Northern Seas gathering in Stavanger, Norway.

Responsibility for environmental investment
According to Quam, Norway has an enormous opportunity in this field because of the large amount of relevant competence in the country, the transparency of Norwegian financial and governmental processes, the many strong leaders and decision makers, and its unique understanding of both the traditional and green energy economies.

In addition, the sheer size of Norway’s financial reserves put it in an excellent position for taking the lead in such investments.

Quam said she felt that, because of the country’s enormous wealth, Norway in fact bears a special responsibility in the climate change fight.

When Quam speaks, people listen
Quam is the managing director of investments in clean energy for the US national investment bank Piper Jaffray Companies.

In 2006 she was named one of the world’s most powerful businesswomen. This Monday, she visited Stavanger to advise Norwegian investors, including the government oil fund, on green investments.

A new start
“The fact that Norway is not a major financial center today is a significant advantage,” said Quam.

“You can make the leap from before to after – you are not burdened by outdated business models or a status quo culture in your financial sector. In the business world, a new company often does a better job at responding to wholly new opportunities than an established company, especially in times of great change,” she said.

Today’s financial centres are situated in places large and populous regions like Amsterdam, London, New York and California’s Silicon Valley.

“Where will the new financial centres be?” said Quam. “Why not in Norway? Oslo and Norway can become a new financial center. You can make it happen.”

Big changes can come in a bolt
Quam pointed out how small changes often happen slowly while big changes can happen quickly, and referred to amongst other events, the reformation of Christianity.

“This is a moment for Norway to think big and act urgently,” said Quam.

The transcript of Quam’s entire speech will be published on Bellona Web within a week.

New thinking required
Dr. Anthony White, Managing Director of Market Development and Chairman of Advisory at the international Climate Change Capital, also spoke at Bellona’s seminar, and like Quam, emphasised that new thinking is required to meet the threat posed by climate change.

“There is a tendency to lean towards the status quo, and this can lead to understating risk in traditional sectors and overstating risk in new sectors,” he said.

White presented a number of possible solutions in which an energy company could provide a service, such as heating, instead of the energy itself. That leaves it up to the energy supplier to reduce energy consumption.

In spite of White’s belief in the market opportunities for clean energy, he also stated that the market would not always be able to find the best and cheapest solutions. Regulations made by politicians will also play a significant part in finding and commercialising the best technologies.

Challenges from Bellona
Ane Brunvoll and Aage Stangeland from the Bellona Foundation presented Bellona’s report “How to Combat Climate Change.” The report shows that by utilizing a wide variety of means and technologies, an 85 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions is possible.

Bellona’s President Frederic Hauge gave a speech in which he claimed that, “’Fossil dinosaurs’ must be turned into pro active businesses.”

Bellona’s vice president, Marius Holm, also commented on this in his speech.

“To invest in fossil fuels is to invest in a failed climate policy, and that is irresponsible,” said Holm.

85 percent clean energy
Holm put forward a demand from Bellona saying that the oil companies should create definite plans on how they can go from being part of the problem to becoming part of the solution. Holm said that the plans should be made within the next two to three years, and be completed by 2050.

Bellona says that oil companies should be able to supply at least 85 percent clean energy by the year 2050.