Caging & extinguishing the fossil dragon: the case for nationalization

Julia Steinberger
4 min readMar 13, 2019

Three stories from just the last week have finally convinced me that bringing fossil industries under full democratic control is unavoidable for the effective and rapid decarbonisation of the global economy.

Historic precedent? 13th century Verona miniature of St George slaying a captive dragon. Source.

Story 1: the case of Norway’s partial divestment

To great news fanfare and rejoicing from climate activists, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund stated it was divesting from oil & gas. But, big caveat, major fossil companies like Shell, BP, Total, Exxon and Norway’s own Equinor are exempt from this divestment.

The stated reason that this continued investment is necessary?

In case that logic is hard to follow, it amounts to this: because these companies already have large investment, and might, who knows, one day, shift some of that investment to renewables, they should keep it. It’s like letting bank robbers keep their loot in case, one day, who knows, they might decide to deposit it back in your account. It’s much less of an argument, and much more of a capitulation.

Story 2: BP and its aggressive right to fart

This story broke just yesterday, an immense scoop from Unearthed.

Despite presenting itself as a leader on reducing methane emissions, BP secretly and successfully lobbied the Trump administration to roll back regulations on methane reductions. Again, we see the corruption, capture and capitulation of…

Julia Steinberger

Immigrant, Swiss-American-UK ecological economist at the University of Lausanne. Research focus on living well within planetary limits. Opinions my own.