Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg today joined protesters campaigning against a new wind farm in Norway, calling it “green colonialism”.
At the protest, the 20-year-old and dozens of Sami activists blocked the entrance to the Norwegian Ministry of Energy to protest against wind turbines still in place on reindeer grazing land, despite a court ruling.
The activists, mostly teenagers from groups called Young Friends of the Earth Norway and the youth council of the Norwegian Sami Association NSR-Nuorat, lay outside the ministry entrance with Sami flags and a sign reading “Land Back”.
“We cannot use the so-called climate transition as a cover for colonialism,” Thunberg told broadcaster TV2 as she blocked the doors of the ministry in Oslo.
“A climate transition that violates human rights is not a climate transition worthy of the name, and therefore we must confront the human rights violations that are occurring here,” he said.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (right) today joined protesters campaigning against a new wind farm in Norway, calling it “green colonialism”.
Nature and Youth activists and Norwegian Samirs Riksforbund Nuorat block the entrances to the Ministry of Oil and Energy with Greta Thunberg in Oslo, Norway, on February 27.
The groups are protesting against the continued operation of wind turbines in the Fosen region of western Norway, more than a year after a landmark ruling by the Norwegian Supreme Court.
The court found that the project violated the right of Sami families to practice their culture of reindeer herding.
The Sami, an indigenous minority of some 100,000 people spread across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, have traditionally lived by fishing and reindeer herding.
In their October 2021 verdict, the 11 judges of the country’s highest court unanimously ruled that the expropriation and operating permits for the construction of the 151 turbines were invalid. Representatives of the Sami indigenous minority demand that the turbines be demolished.
However, they did not give any guidance on what should be done with the turbines, which were already in operation at the time of the ruling. So far, the Norwegian authorities have refrained from taking any action and ordered further assessments.
“It is clear that when a human rights violation has been going on for more than 500 days in Fosen, it is time to take action,” Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen, a Sami musician and activist, told TV2.
On the night from Sunday to Monday, the Norwegian police forcibly evicted a dozen activists who had been occupying the lobby of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for several days.
The Sami protesters wore their traditional dress, often called a gakti, backwards as a sign of protest. “Right now, in general, I feel very, very convinced that the Sami in Fosen should have their rights, I feel very strongly and there are a lot of emotions,” one of the protesters, who gave her name as Joni, told Reuters after to be remote.
The activists, mostly teenagers from groups called Young Friends of the Earth Norway and the youth council of the Norwegian Sami Association NSR-Nuorat, lay outside the ministry entrance with Sami flags and a sign reading ‘Land Back’.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (centre) joined activists protesting against the continued operation of wind turbines in the Fosen region of western Norway, more than a year after a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court of Norway.
Reindeer herders in the Nordic country say the sight and sound of the giant wind-powered machinery scare their animals and upset ancient traditions.
“We are here to demand that the turbines be pulled down and that legal rights be respected,” said Sámi singer-songwriter, actress and activist Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen.
The ministry said the final fate of the wind farms is a complex legal dilemma despite the high court ruling and hopes to find a compromise.
Oil and Energy Minister Terje Aasland acknowledged Monday that the case was a “heavy burden” for Sami reindeer herders.
“But while the Supreme Court has found that the permits granted violate the legal protection of reindeer herders, it has not made a decision on what will happen” to the turbines, he said.
‘That is what we are now trying to determine. Changing permissions in Fosen requires that the issue be sufficiently studied,’ she added in an email to AFP.
The building whose entrance was blocked on Monday houses several ministries, so officials from six departments have been asked to work from home.
The western Fosen region of Norway has a series of six onshore wind farms, which were commissioned between 2018 and 2020. There are 278 wind turbines at the six sites, making it the second largest onshore wind farm in Europe (the first in Sweden).
It more than doubled Norway’s wind power generation capacity.
The Norwegian Supreme Court found that the Fosen wind farm project (pictured in 2021) violated the right of Sami families to practice their reindeer herding culture.
The Sami live in Lapland, which stretches from northern Norway through Sweden and Finland to Russia, while a few hundred live in the US and Ukraine.
They once faced oppression from their culture, including being banned from using their native language, and they still face discrimination today.
Today, the nomadic people live mostly modern lifestyles, but still herd reindeer, with around 10 percent of Sami connected to reindeer herding as of 2007.
Today, it is estimated that there are around 80,000 Sami in total, with Norway being home to the largest number of this indigenous group.