Historisk arkiv

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

Prime Minister's New Year’s Address 2007

Historisk arkiv

Publisert under: Regjeringen Stoltenberg II

Utgiver: Statsministerens kontor

National radio and television, 1 January 2007

In his New Year’s address to the nation, Prime Minister Stoltenberg announced that the Government will purchase CO2 emission quotas to offset the pollution caused by international air travel by government employees. Mr Stoltenberg said that climate change must be taken seriously, but in his address he also stressed the importance of maintaining optimism and faith in the future.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's

New Year’s Address

National radio and television, 1 January 2007

Fellow countrymen,

I have a wish for the new year that has just started: that we will have more optimism for the future. Not a naïve belief that everything will end well, no matter what happens, but an optimistic belief that it is possible to meet the challenges of our time.

Many people are experiencing hardship, conflict and grief. At times our problems can seem overwhelming, and we become despondent and fail to see the opportunities that exist.

But the world moves forward as long as we have the will to create a better future.

According to a well-know quotation, “men make their own history”. More progress has been made in past few decades than at any time in history.

Never before have so many people lived in peace. There are fewer wars, and far fewer victims.

Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty. In 20 years, there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty.

Never before have so many people lived in democracies. During recent years 1.5 billion people have experienced the transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Never before have so many children had such good prospects of surviving to adulthood, and never before have people lived longer. Take Bangladesh, where 30 years ago, a newborn baby could expect to reach the age of 40. Today it can expect to live into its sixties.

And we ourselves can expect to live longer than previous generations.

This year’s Nobel peace laureate, Muhammad Yunus, said that we can create a poverty-free world. This goal has never been within our reach before. Now it is.

Mankind is becoming increasingly successful in its endeavours.

Twenty years ago, we were all worried about the damage to the ozone layer that protects our planet. Now we are getting to grips with this. New knowledge and technology have solved what we until recently believed was an insurmountable problem.

Progress is being made in our own country as well.

Never before have so many people been employed and so few out of work. The number of unemployed has now fallen below 50, 000, the lowest figure in nearly 20 years.

Businesses are doing well — in all parts of the country.

Municipalities all over the country are making great efforts to provide full day-care coverage.

The number of people employed in caring for the elderly is constantly increasing, and more and more people see their elderly parents well taken care of.

All of this gives a sense of security, and people who feel secure are prepared to invest in the future. The result is new opportunities — for big and small actors alike.

In Kirkenes the young entrepreneur Bente Fiskerstrand has started a call-senter, in Kårhamn in Finnmark county the young entrepreneur Lene Wiese, together with her husband Andreas, has started Lean Fish, a company that delivers top-quality fresh fish to the international gourmet market. The concept is based on innovation and world-class quality from a clean and rich ocean. In this way they are creating local employment opportunities and development — and this generates optimism for the future.

We must believe that it is possible to succeed. Without such optimism we lose our drive. And we need drive to meet the great challenges of our time.

Large parts of the country have had the warmest autumn and early winter for over a century. We see signs of this daily: our skis are standing unused, children aren’t making snowmen, researchers warn that the polar bear is endangered.

In the UK, canary birds used to be used to warn miners of danger. When the birds stopped chirping, it meant the air quality had deteriorated and that the miners needed to get out.

In Norway today it is not yellow canary birds that warn us, but yellow spring flowers blooming where there should be a blanket of snow. In December, Avisa Nordland, a newspaper for the county of the same name, reported that a confused coltsfoot had been found by the roadside. This is a warning we must take seriously. We are afraid there is something wrong with the weather.

We must take our share of responsibility. Greenhouse gas emission must be reduced. Norway has taken on a pioneering role by deciding that the gas power plant at Mongstad will be required to have full-scale CO2 capture and storage (CCS). We are going to make this a reality.

When President Kennedy said that the Americans would land on the moon within 10 years they hadn’t been in space yet. They got to the moon within 10 years. They set themselves a goal. And they reached it.

It is our vision that within seven years we will have put in place capture and storage technology. This will be an important breakthrough in the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Norway, and once we succeed, I am convinced that the rest of the world will follow our example.

This is a major project for our country. It is our moon landing.

Greenhouse gas emissions are not confined by national borders. Nor, therefore, should the solutions be. We must both reduce our own emissions and help other countries to reduce theirs. We will do this in many different ways.

The Government has decided to purchase CO2 quotas equivalent to the emissions caused by government employees’ international air travel.

If this is only done by a few, it will have little impact, whereas if many take part, it will have a significant effect. We want to set an example. We hope that businesses, organisations and other countries will follow suit.

King Olav V once said that incredible things can happen when enthusiasm is the driving force. He was absolutely right. Enthusiasm, will and determination are powerful driving forces. We see examples of this every day throughout our long, narrow country.

I particularly want to draw attention to all the people who dedicate their time to the community: from parents who do voluntary work for their children’s school band or sports club to the enthusiastic participants in the historical plays that are staged every summer.

We see the same enthusiasm in the many initiatives to make people proud of the place they come from. The people of Steinkjer have decided to make it “an open, welcoming and happy municipality”. Several municipalities in the northern part of the Østerdalen valley and the Røros area have launched a joint campaign to get people to move to the area called “Settle here!”. With their selling points about the quality of life, the great skiing conditions and the absence of queues, they have enticed 25 families to the region.

A strong sense of local pride, good initiatives, voluntary work and a sense of community make our country a good place to live.

Norwegian organisations have twice as many members as the number of inhabitants in Norway. Our country needs all this voluntary activity. Without it, there would be less warmth, less happiness.

None of us are so strong that we never need the support of others. Any one of us can find ourselves in a situation where we are the one who needs help. We have all experienced setbacks, or that life hasn’t turned out the way we expected. In such periods we need support and comfort.

Neither the public nor the private sector can fill all the gaps that arise between the market, public services and the needs of the individual. Here we need our fellow human beings.

Author Tarjei Vesaas wrote that every human being is an island, so we need bridges. Our aim is a society with many bridges between people.

Just before Christmas I visited Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Territory. A journey like that leaves a lot of strong and lasting impressions.

It was a memorable experience to light a candle in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, an area full of conflict.

In Beirut I met eleven-year-old Muhammed. He and his father had hit a cluster mine when they were riding a scooter. The boy lost both legs. In spite of all our wealth, we are unable to give him his legs back. But we can help him get the necessary operations and prostheses. That will give him hope for a better life. I will never forget meeting him.

In February 2006 the Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan were attacked. Their courage, skilfulness and loyalty to each other prevented any loss of life among them. The incident showed just how demanding their mission is, and how important it is that they are there.

We are proud of the contribution Norwegians serving in international missions are making — as soldiers in Lebanon and Afghanistan and observers and aid workers in the field.

They set out with the most important ballast we can give them: knowledge, respect for their mission and a commitment to peace and human dignity. They are helping to create hope for a better future.

In dealing with the things that happen to us — both as individuals and as a community — we need hope. Without it, we are unable to find the strength to keep going and find new solutions.

My new year’s wish is that 2007 will give us reason for hope and faith — and enthusiasm.

Cabin attendant Maibritt Magnussen has demonstrated a rare ability to look ahead. During the plane crash on the island of Stord in October, she saved many lives, although her own clothes were on fire. Now she says she is looking forward to flying again. This is an example of true bravery and optimism for the future.

I would like to send a particular new year’s greeting with my thanks to all those who are serving Norway abroad, to our seamen and all those who are on duty this evening.

I would also like to send a greeting with my thanks to the members of the Royal Family for everything they do for the country.

I wish all of you a happy new year filled with optimism for the future.