IEN Movie Review: "Occupied" Series
Updated: May 27, 2021
Written by Bjorn Bull Hansen
Last week, the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Datuk Mahadi Che Ngah, announced that all future developments (commercial and residential) must rely on 30% on renewables. That is a small but welcomed step towards 100% renewables and a zero-carbon future. Operation of buildings accounts for nearly 30% of all global energy consumption and 55% of all global electricity consumption, and causes 28% of all Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions (2019). Lowering the energy demand and shifting the energy mix towards renewables is essential. For a country like Malaysia, the main electricity production comes from Coal (41%), Gas (40%), Hydropower (16%), Renewables (1%) and Oil (1%). Now imagine that most of these Coal and Gas supplies were imported and that your provider would cut off the supplies from one day to the other, while transitioning the supplies to an alternative cleaner energy source, leaving your power plants underutilised and in the worst case your citizens without access to energy, what would you do? That's the starting point for the Norwegian Political Thriller series "Occupied" now screening on Netflix.
Occupied Netflix trailer
The series shows how a country's political willpower to diversify away from Oil and Gas can cause unforeseen Geopolitical challenges and consequence and how countries you previously thought were your friends turn their back on you. The series kicks off with the Norwegian Prime Minister, and Green Party leader, Jesper Berg opening a new Thorium Nuclear Plant and halting the countries Oil and Gas Production in the fight against climate change with the message “The time for fossil fuel has passed!”. A milestone for the country’s green transition but an unpopular move among the European Countries and Leaders. And the context is real, while Norway's oil production only accounts for 2% of the world's demand their gas production and pipeline volumes were in 2019 the world's 2nd largest only exceeded by Russia. The country is mainly supplying neighbouring countries in Europe with gas, covering 20 - 25% of EU's demand.[4, 5] No wonder other European Leaders would be angry about such a decision to halt the production and flow.
Own diagram after Natural gas trade movements 2019 by pipeline (bp, 2020)
The thriller continues and Berg is shortly after the opening of the new Thorium Plant kidnapped by Russian Special Forces and confronted by the neighbouring European leaders. They are demanding for Norway to immediately resume the Oil and Gas production, otherwise, it will have severe consequences for Norway. In fact, the European Leaders assisted by Russia have already taken over strategic locations in the country to ensure that the production gets back to previous levels as part of a soft occupation. Berg and Norway have no other choice but to comply with the demands to avoid an armed conflict with Russia and the rest of Europe, which would put millions of civilian lives in danger.
Throughout the three seasons of the series, we follow amongst other plots, Berg’s long journey from Norwegian Prime Minister to Leader of a Norwegian Exile Government backed by local Norwegian Freedom Fighters and the Norwegian Military, to a man on the run with a mission to gain back Norway and a future without fossil fuels. In the last season (3) Berg ends up running out of options and he returns to pursuing his main goal, now as a climate activist. His final move is in collaboration with a small group of climate activists to orchestrate a cyber-attack on Moscow, shutting down the city's main power grid and demanding for immediate climate action, or more attacks will follow. His message to citizens around the world is also clear:
Don't wait for climate agreements to save the planet. Don't wait for democracy to save the planet. Don't wait for anybody. Only you can do it.
- Jesper Berg, former Norwegian Prime Minister - "Occupied"
While "Occupied" is fiction the key messages are all clear, real and familiar. We need to take Climate Change action immediately. While we wait for governments and politicians to come up with new policies, plans and regulations, we as Citizens, Building Owners, Architects, Engineers and Consultants must do our part to make informed environmentally sustainable choices to significantly reduce our impacts on the surrounding environment.
We all have a role to play in the green transition!
Disclaimer: While the theme we have discussed here is Climate Action, being a series, "Occupied" does also touch on other themes and questions, which makes it worth watching and discussing.
1. Bavani, M. (2021). 30% renewable energy rule for all new projects. [online] Available at: https://www.thestar.com.my/metro/metro-news/2021/05/17/30-renewable-energy-rule-for-all-new-projects [Accessed 19 May 2021].
2. United Nations Environment Programme (2020). 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction: Towards a Zero-emission, Efficient and Resilient Buildings and Construction Sector. Nairobi. [online] Available at: https://globalabc.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/2020%20Buildings%20GSR_FULL%20REPORT.pdf [Accessed 19 May 2021]
3. Ritchie, H.; Roser, M. (2021). Malaysia: Energy Country Profile. [online] Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/energy/country/malaysia [Accessed 19 May 2021].
4. bp (2020). Statistical Review of World Energy 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/business-sites/en/global/corporate/pdfs/energy-economics/statistical-review/bp-stats-review-2020-full-report.pdf [Accessed 19 May 2021]
5. Norwegian Petroleum (2021). Exports of Oil and Gas [online] Available at: https://www.norskpetroleum.no/en/production-and-exports/exports-of-oil-and-gas/#:~:text=Norway%20supplies%20between%2020%20and,commodities%20in%20the%20Norwegian%20economy. [Accessed 19 May 2021]