Greta Thunberg and dozens of activists from Norway’s Sami community shut down large parts of the country’s government on Monday to protest what they call “green colonialism”.
Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist, said in Oslo that it was an “international scandal” and “absolutely absurd” that Norway was ignoring a ruling by its Supreme Court against building a large onshore wind farm in the center of the Scandinavian country. The verdict said unanimously constructively Vossen wind farm It violates the rights of the indigenous Sámi people by affecting the places where reindeer may graze.
“The Norwegian government can no longer turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses that are taking place. The colonization of the Sami people must stop,” Thunberg told a small crowd.
She insisted that the protest was not about opposing wind power, but that climate change could not happen “at the expense of indigenous rights”.
Onshore wind power is a controversial topic in both Norway and neighboring Sweden as wind farms are often placed on land used by the Sami for reindeer herding. Clashes also took place in Sweden over mine sites for iron ore and other minerals.
Sami activists accuse big business and the government of “green colonialism” – using the mantle of green projects like wind power or minerals for batteries and green steel to usurp their rights as indigenous people.
The clash in Norway, which led to the closure of several ministries on Monday, also highlights the trade-offs between focusing solely on climate change and supporting protections over nature and biodiversity or indigenous rights.
Fredrik Hauge, founder of the Norwegian environmental lobby group Bellona, urged politicians in 2021 to recognize the need to sacrifice parts of nature to combat climate change, citing the need for wind and solar farms in remote areas.
The center-left government in Oslo has repeatedly refused to provide details of how it will comply with the Supreme Court’s decision. On the occasion of the 500th day since the verdict, Sami activists went out this weekend to receive the building of several ministries.
Norwegian police forcibly expelled the 13 activists at 3 a.m. Monday, but they and others, including Thunberg, returned later in the morning and sat in front of the building that houses the oil and energy department as well as five other ministries including finance. The government told state broadcaster NRK that it had sent a text message to all employees in the six ministries advising them to work from home on Monday.
“The plan is to shut them down today, and this is because the Ministry of Oil and Energy is not doing its job the right way. We cannot allow them to do more damage,” Sami activist Ella Mari Hata Isaksen told NRK.
Police said Monday afternoon that they had removed a small number of protesters to allow access to the building housing the six ministries, although many of the protesters had chained themselves together.
Norway, Western Europe’s largest oil producer, has faced prolonged scrutiny over the dissonance between its green goals, such as banning the sale of new petrol cars by 2025, and its pumping of oil and gas. It has struggled to start a domestic wind power industry of any size due to opposition from onshore farms, and is instead focusing on offshore facilities to add to its vast hydroelectric resources.
Oil and Energy Minister Terje Asland called the protest “good for democracy” and said he would meet Sami leaders later this week. He said the government needed more to know how to respond to the Supreme Court ruling, which failed to give an exact penalty such as ordering the wind farm to be dismantled.
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