The Christie Conference 2015: The North Sea was never a barrier

The author Michael Pye believes that the North Sea was the foundation for the history of Northern Europe's civilisation. On 29 April he will open the Christie Conference 2015 in Bergen.

A photo of the North Sea
DISCUSSING THE NORTH SEA: The North Sea - the sea that created the country is the theme of the Christie Conference to be held in Bergen on 29 April 2015. The conference is a meeting point for researchers, politicians, business leaders and people from cultural and community groups as well as the public sector.
Svein Otto Jacobsen

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“Around the Mediterranean we take for granted that there were strong links between the countries and that these mutually influenced one another through trade routes from east to west and back again. However, the same also applies for the North Sea, and the consequences were remarkable.”

This is how Michael Pye begins his new book The edge of the world. How the North Sea made us who we are. In the book he discusses how the North Sea has never been a barrier. On the contrary, it was a line of connection that developed technology, culture and society in the region.

“It is an honour to be asked to participate at the Christie Conference. I am really looking forward to it,” says the British author, historian and journalist. He is ready to tell the participants at the Grieg Hall (Grieghallen) how the North Sea has played an important role in our culture and identity.

“This is a story about saints and spies, fishermen and pirates, traders and marauders and how their daring journeys across the North Sea created the world that we know.”


Looking ahead to 2065

This year’s programme is in two parts. The first part is called The North Sea Adventure and is about the North Sea as a door opener to the rest of the world.

“We are incredibly pleased to have Michael Pye as one of our main speakers. He tells a fascinating story and I think our audience will have a few "eureka" moments,” says Professor Leif Ove Larsen, who is Head of the Programme Committee for the Christie Conference 2015.

Part two of the conference is entitled A sea of opportunities and addresses the importance of the North Sea in 50 years. Speeches for this part will be made by, among others, Peter Crawley, EU Director of Marine Research and Fisheries Management.


Wants political action in the sea

The list of speakers also includes Vegard Laukhammer, Head of Renewable Energy at the Bergen-based Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) and the driving force behind the energy company GreenStat. He believes the North Sea can be vital for offshore wind and hydrogen production.

“Thus far, wind power has been mostly about nice words and research. The oil and gas sectors have done so well that politicians have become incapable of action. Norway now needs new workplaces and the world needs renewable energy. By strongly focussing on the North Sea, we can exploit what Western Norway is already good at: energy, technology and shipping,” he says.

One possibility is using offshore wind power to produce hydrogen which is then transported directly by ship to markets in Asia. Laukhammer talks about how Toyota is focussing heavily on hydrogen, and that Japan is looking for countries that can export hydrogen. At the Christie Conference, he will talk about what this could mean for Norway and, in particular, Western Norway.