Seniors and Climate Issues

Background: Iceland holds the chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2023, and on that occasion, the Ministry of the Environment, Energy, and Climate initiated a Nordic project with the main goal of mapping and strengthening the work of older people in the Nordic countries in the field of climate issues. A Nordic seminar was held in Reykjavík 27-28 September.

The Norwegian Grandparents Climate Campaign – who we are, what we do.
A presentation by Bente Marie Bakke, activist and member of the GCC national steering-committee.

Dear all of you,

Thanks a lot for the invitation to this conference in the remarkable country of Island. Grandparents Climate Campaign is an organization with members from many Norwegian parties.

Andrew Kroglund, our director, has told you about the central organization. Locally we are very active, having many stands, talking to people, giving them information material, and recruiting new members.

In front of the Parliament, you see Grandparents from Oslo and some other local organizations in 2019. We were supporting children skipping school, calling for climate action. Greta Thunberg was their great ideal. The organization in Oslo usually has an action in front of Parliament every week.

I am 80 years old and have a background from press and policy. I was a member of Parliament from 1981-89 for the conservative party Høyre. As a spokesperson for the environment, I discovered a lack of environmental policy in the party program. At that time climate change had also become an issue, so I worked to include this. My work was not appreciated, and I was not reelected for a new period in Parliament. Many years later I gave up Høyre and became a member of the Green Party.

The Grandparents have 17 local organizations, from Alta and Tromsø in the far north, Bergen on the west coast, to Kristiansand in south. I am a member of the board in Indre Østfold, a municipality close to Sweden in the south of Norway. Here we have good contact with the local government administration and the political parties.

Here is one of the many stands we arranged in Indre Østfold this year. This is held in a local shopping center, where we always get good response from the customers passing by.

Equinor planned in 2022 to develop the big oilfield Wisting in the vulnerable area in the Arctic. All environmental organizations, including The Grandparents, demonstrated in front of Parliament, and luckily, we won the struggle then.

The local paper in Indre Østfold printed an article with a picture of me and another local Grandparent demonstrating against Wisting. It is important to have contact with the local press.

Almedalsveckan in Sweden has inspired Norway to arrange Arendal Week in August every year. The Grandparents has been there for many years, arranging meetings, having stands, and doing “Climate Walking”.

Two of our members are “Climate Waking” in Arendal, using our red hats and “body posters” with our important messages: “The children’s climate is our main matter,” and “Stop all searching for oil.”.

This is from the stand in Arendal in August. My little “Climate Dog” Bruno was as usual a good supporter, wandering around with me and being an extra attraction. He always made it easy to meet and talk with people.

The Grandparents in Trondheim are very active, and they often are out in the streets having stands and singing “Climate songs”.

Here you see 7 members in Trondheim arranging a quiz about renewable energy. Renewable investments in Norway have fallen with 40 % since 2018, and only 0,15 % of Equinor’s production is renewable. Norway is still betting on oil and gas, despite better knowledge.

When I became a member of The Grandparents in 2010, I bought one share in the Norwegian oil company Statoil, now Equinor. This gives me the right to meet at the General Assembly and present my proposals.

This year we were four members from the Grandparents at the Assembly. Our proposals are voted down every year by the Norwegian State’s representative. He votes for 67 % of the shares.

We also had a stand outside Equinors headquarters in Stavanger. People are generally not aware of the fact that the Government this year has proclaimed 139 new areas for searching for oil and gas, most of them in the Barents Sea. The Government and majority in Parliament don’t listen to FN’s general secretary Antônio Guterres. He has declared Code Red and told all countries to stop oil searching.

Since the election four years ago Equinor has used enormous amounts on green-washing advertisements in all national media. They have convinced many students that it will be profitable to go in for a carrier in oil business. The company also supports many cultural and sports events with big money. This makes it difficult for green companies to recruit competent workers. Oil business nearly takes them all.

I have been asked to comment on the advantages and disadvantages of membership fees. The Grandparents have always operated with membership fees. I’m convinced that this is a great advantage. It would be impossible to finance all our activity without this.

We have had many information leaflets during the years. This year we have a picture on the front of our leader, Linda Parr, with a granddaughter.

On the back is information of how you can become a member, either by using our Internet page or by E-mail. The fee is NOK 300, – for main members.  NOK 150,- for supporting members.

On the back we have a picture of our highly respected member, Kåre Willoch, Prime Minister for Høyre in the 80ties. He died in 2021, but his widow allowed us to use the picture and quote his statement from the Arendal Week I 2019.

Membership fees have helped as to finance both the central and local work. We also finance groups writing reports about important issues. Some of them we print and others you can read on the net.

This is a good example of a report that should be read by politicians and other important people. In my local organization we plan to give it to all the group leaders in the local government. We hope it will help them taking good decisions for the climate and nature the coming period.

Voluntary organizations in Norway with more than 5 000 paying members get economic support from the Government. We now have about 6 800 members. This year we totally will receive NOK 2 056.000. I hope you have systems with governmental economic support to organizations also in other Nordic countries.

Thank you all for your attention. And many thanks to you that have made this marvelous adventure possible.

Spre klimavett,
del denne saken!