“Borgen”: the season too many for Birgitte Nyborg

Warning: This article contains spoilers.

We no longer present Borgen, a Danish series that follows the career of a politician, Birgitte Nyborg, leader of the centrist party who became Prime Minister of the kingdom. The first three seasons showed a character grappling with the conquest and then the exercise of power, between arduous negotiations and dirty tricks. The fourth season is too much. This excess is not aimed at the series itself, but at the politician who clings to power and whose convictions are withering.

Indeed, in this mandate too many, Denmark receives a poisoned gift: a vast oil field has just been discovered in Greenland. We say to ourselves that the small country which saw the birth of the company Vestas and whose electricity is very largely derived from wind turbines will obviously say no to black gold. Unfortunately, when it comes to energy, nothing is ever simple. The oil gift quickly distills its poison.

Can we disdain such a deposit, which would bring the state a small fortune while creating jobs? A fortiori when he is in Greenland, which is clearly lagging behind in development and who would like to be independent… The autonomists are more than favorable to the exploitation of oil, seeing in it the resources necessary for their independence.

By extrapolating, Greenland is here the mirror of the countries of the South to which, from COP to COPwe would like to impose a costly energy transition, even if it means hampering their development, which today is largely fueled by fossil fuels.

Fight against global warming
by exploiting oil?

The questions that arise are therefore multiple and sometimes dizzying. Prospective vision: wouldn’t oil money make it possible to finance the Danish energy transition more quickly? With a few barrels, we can afford wind turbines!

Optimistic relativism: the increase in CO2 that would result from the exploitation of the deposit would be marginal on the scale of global emissions, while the oil revenue is unexpected for Denmark. We could not better free ourselves from rules that we ourselves have enacted.

All in all very close to the Norwegian energy model, this Faustian pact summarizes in itself the contradictions of a political class ready for all quibbles to justify the unjustifiable.

Money, geopolitics and cynicism

Starting with Birgitte Nyborg, who argues that her position as Minister of Foreign Affairs, which includes… Greenland, to take care of the file, therefore to exist – instead of letting her colleagues manage this mess. The thirst for power is unquenchable.

She opposes her “green” colleagues, who are struggling to digest the climate volte-face of the government to which they belong. A bit of environmental arrogance does no harm: here she is blandly explaining that Denmark could exploit oil properly, in a way produce “clean oil”.

Isn’t it better for a democratic country to have such a resource than a dictatorship? Yes, yes, this argument arises in a discussion. It covers another, more fatalistic and just as cynical. As this deposit exists, it will be exploited sooner or later: we might as well do it ourselves and now. Oh yes it’s true, there are whales on the greenland coast. But it is not an endangered species. Oh ok, so everything is fine then?

Blurred societal benchmarks

To these questions could be added other particularly complex ones. To what extent should we deprive ourselves of such an economic resource, capable of financing investments in infrastructure, social programs, housing… Impossible for politicians to brush them aside climatic.

Let us observe in passing that this is more or less the argument of the proponents of a tax on the “super-profits” of oil tankers: take money from them, yes; cease their activity? You do not belive it. It really is “magic money”. It stinks a little, yes, but it does a good job.

The lesson is appalling: in matters of climate, the policies will only accompany the disaster, showing themselves incapable of hindering it.


Quickly, in Borgen, we come to the essential: to negotiate the annuity. Autonomists claim almost all of the profits. Denmark is aiming instead for a fifty-fifty. It is already no longer a question of the environment: oil is above all big money.

Suddenly, fighter planes fly over the peaceful expanses of ice. Those separatist assholes negotiated the concession with the Chinese! Inevitably, that annoys the Americans, who have military interests in Thule. The Russians invite themselves to the ball. Oil is above all geostrategy. For this small kingdom, it is basically flattering to be courted by the great world powers. Birgitte Nyborg feels important. In politics, ego matters.

The reflection of our collective recklessness

Environment and oil, morality and business, political grub and ideals… Faced with contradictory injunctions, Birgitte Nyborg will save her honor thanks to a little scriptwriting trick, which will only fool the naive or the complacent. Because the lesson of Borgen season 4 is appalling: in matters of climate, the policies will only accompany the disaster, showing themselves incapable of hindering it.

On its scale and in the format of a fiction, the series highlights our collective inability to understand global warming. Because, surprise, we are just as guilty.

We prefer driving at 130 km/h on the highway rather than 100 to save five minutes immediately, instead of limiting global warming in ten or fifty years. In Borgen, the Greenlanders are easily bought by the Chinese: what are fine principles worth compared to a brand new fishing boat? For them, as for us, immediate satisfaction takes precedence over any effort for distant benefit.

How can we blame ourselves when the stakes are barely noticeable? And why would politicians act otherwise? Who would vote for a program entirely dedicated to the fight against global warming? We prefer, by far, to approve the promises of a general increase and rebates on refueling.

Between unemployment and social demands, the short-term issues still prevail and it is likely that this will continue for some time. Besides, it’s time to burn a lot of oil to go on vacation. Waiting for the day when, like Governor of Utah, we’ll be left praying for a little rain. Don’t laugh, it will happen to us.

“Borgen”: the season too many for Birgitte Nyborg