Written by PhDstudent Tahrir Jaber, REIS research group, Handelshøgskolen ved UiT.
Reflecting the call made by the United Nation to solve our current climate challenges and reduce our carbon emissions, there is a strong need for countries to improve their environmental standards. Norway was among the first countries who welcomed Paris Agreement and ensured its commitment to the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. This made for significant changes regarding environmental policy, where renewable energy has been introduced as an alternative clean source of energy and is promoted as a climate change adaptation.
How has Equinor, a state-owned oil and gas company, adapted to meet the clean shift?
Equinor (formerly Statoil) is mostly owned by the Norwegian government who committed itself to a clean shift at all levels of society. This forced Statoil as an oil and gas company to reshape its strategy and invest heavily in clean energy activities to becoming a mixed-energy company. However, this shift is considered critical because the petroleum activities are crucial for the Norway’s economic growth and for funding the Norwegian welfare state. Also, investing in new clean activities requires Equinor to enhance its capabilities, knowledge and competences outside their boundaries.
Oil and gas companies in transition are required to include cultural and technological changes. Therefore, I found it interesting to understand why Equinor introduced new clean activities to the company and how people in Equinor accept and manage this clean shift. However, in order to answer those questions, I intended to collect my data through interviews and survey. This enabled me as a researcher to enrich the evidence and answer my questions more deeply.
The results show that Equinor’s owner (Norwegian state), top management team, board of directors and top leader play the most essential role in reshaping the company’s strategy in order to take a step towards a new clean shift. However, employees play an important role in strengthening this clean shift. This shows that employees understand the importance of the clean shift, accept it and are interested to develop new clean projects and introduce it to the management team.
Governments and policymakers play the most important role towards a sustainable future
This case shows us, first, the important role government plays in establishing environmental regulations that force companies to change and work to reduce their own carbon emissions. Second, it shed the light on the manager’s moral role in reshaping the company’s strategy by adopting new sustainable projects. Third, the Equinor case shows that its employees are invited to introduce any clean projects to the top management team. By this, employees will have a personal stake in the company and its success, create an opportunity for employees to share ideas, find that their contributions are valued and this enables them to contribute more.
To conclude, I believe that governments and policymakers play the most important role in achieving a sustainable future. Countries should commit to work towards reducing our emissions and have to take action in order to force companies and societies to achieve this goal. Therefore, it is extremely important for policymakers to establish new regulations and incentives that motivate companies to reduce their emissions and reward companies who intend to adopt clean activities.