Swedish climate activist is supporting Sámi people in their protest against wind turbines that are jeopardizing reindeer herding in the region. Since green transition must go hand-in-hand with human and animal rights, Greta Thunberg joined Protests against Wind Farms with Other Climate Activists in Norway.
Yes, it is strange but Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is protesting against wind turbines in Norway along with the group of Sámi people, also known as indigenous and environmental groups in Norway. To protest against two wind farms in Sámi reindeer grazing grounds, Greta along with dozens of protestors blocked access to Norwegian government buildings.
This protest rose because the centuries old tradition of herding reindeer is being at risk by the largest onshore wind farms in Fosen region, Norway. These wind farms consist of 151 wind turbines reaching a height of about 285 feet (86.86 meters). Traditional lands of Sámi people (Sapmi) lie spread through northern parts of Sweden, Russia, Finland, and Norway.
That means they are already living on the frontline of climatic crisis. Reindeer herder and Sámi politician, Maja Kristine Jåma said, “The constructions are stealing the reindeer’s grazing land. The reindeer are also affected by the infrastructure around the turbines, including roads. It disturbs them a lot.” Thus, this recognized indigenous group is raising their voices for these wind turbines to be torn down.
Greta Thunberg said, “Indigenous rights, human rights, must go hand-in-hand with climate protection and climate action. This can’t happen at the expense of some people.” The present situation in Norway is a part of the growing quandary in consideration of green transition, that is, how to effectively implement climate policies without inhumane ignorance of indigenous and environmental rights & policies.
This issue over wind farms has been prevailing since 2021. Supreme Court, Norway declared wind farms permit as invalid because their operation violated the protected cultural rights of the group regarding reindeer grazing lands. With this, the Sámi people secured legal victory. But, until now, wind farms are still operating. On this issue Political Advisor to Norway Sámi Parliament, Eirik Larsen said, “So far, the government has not even acknowledged the Supreme Court’s ruling on the violation of human rights or offered an apology to the Reindeer Sámi.”
Larsen further added, “Indigenous Peoples are asked to give up their lands for the wind industry, mining, and other purposes to save the world from a crisis mainly created by others.” Due to the excessive warming of the Arctic, there is hardly any feeding ground left for reindeer to feed. Increased rainfall results in frozen layers of ice over their food. This is why the land available after the establishment of wind farms is decreasing considerably.
The Norwegian Government is making assessments to secure rights of Sámi people in Fosen without compromising with the green energy production of the country. On this, Elisabeth Sæther, State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum, said, “The Supreme Court has considered that the permits that have been granted are invalid, but it does not follow from the judgment that the wind turbines must be taken down.”
Elisabeth Sæther further added, “The government has been consulting with reindeer herders and the Sámi Parliament to find solutions that make it possible for reindeer herding and the wind turbines to operate side by side.” Elisabeth further added, “As the wind turbines are already constructed and in operation, the first thing we must do is investigate whether there are solutions that make it possible for reindeer herding and the wind turbines to operate side by side.”
Electricity generation in Norway is on the verge of completely dependent on renewable resources, out of which wind energy is an important part of green energy transition of the country. Almost 90% of electricity in the country was generated from hydropower and wind power in 2020 and since then it has increased 10 folds. Over the last decade, there has been a rise of 6.5% in it.
In this context, Maja Kristine Jåma said, “But you cannot have a green shift that violates human rights or Indigenous rights. These constructions threaten our way of living and our way of engaging in our culture as reindeer herders.”
CEO and Founder of the Environmental Justice Foundation, Steve Trent said, “The Sámi did not cause the climate crisis, and their traditional ways of life – which they have practiced for millennia – should not be jeopardized by efforts to resolve it. Our efforts to roll back global heating must be equitable and fair.” Thus, Greta Thunberg joined Protests against Wind Farms with Other Climate Activists in Norway.