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During the event “Prime Minister for a day” at Arendalsuka, Elisabeth Grieg had no doubts about what she would do if she ruled the country.

“With power, you can make a difference, and that is why I get up in the morning: to do something positive and make a difference to society,” Elisabeth Grieg, chairman of the board of Grieg Maturitas, answered when asked if she is attracted to power.

The question came during the event “Prime Minister for a day” at Arendalsuka, where the theme was the green transition in the maritime industry.

Appropriately enough, the event took place on the hybrid boat MS Brim. The sun was shining on deck when moderator Christian Strand gathered Grieg and the CEO of the Norwegian Shipping Association, Harald Solberg; managing director in NORWEA, Åslaug Haga; head of Rev Ocean, Nina Jensen; and CEO of Gard, Rolf Thore Roppestad, to talk about what they would do for the maritime industry if they were the ones running the country.

During the event’s second half, Grieg and Solberg remained to join a live recording of the podcast “E24-podden” with host Nora Rydne.

We must work faster

Grieg’s answer to what she wanted to prioritize was clear: The transition must happen faster.

“Now, we are launching evaluations and analyses, and before we have time to finish the word ‘evaluations’, we risk other countries being ahead of us. To be a leader in the green transition, we must work faster. We, the industry, must cooperate with the authorities – and the authorities must cooperate with us,” she said.

“When the Bergen Railway was built, we used an entire yearly national budget to get it done. Just think of what we would have achieved in the maritime and green transitions if we had stepped up our willingness to invest and dared to make unpopular choices so that we could get it done fast enough.

Not worth going green

Grieg also said that the industry is calling for regulations that make it more expensive to pollute.

“It must be worthwhile to go green, and it must be costly to pollute. That’s not how it is today; it’s quite the opposite.”

That sentiment received strong support from the Shipowners’ Association leader Harald Solberg.

“To transition us away from fossil fuel, we have to price it differently. There must be a higher cost for emitting CO2 – and we can use that income to develop new technology. The industry is keen to readjust, and if Norway doesn’t follow suit, there is a real danger that others will race ahead of us,” warned Solberg.

Grieg agreed with Solberg’s warning but said she has faith that Norway will be able to do what is needed.

“I think Norway has shown itself to be capable of change. We have so much expertise and technology development, and new solutions are constantly delivered. But many of them are pilots that have to move to large-scale – and that shift is happening too slowly.”