Norway expands Arctic drilling while promising emissions cuts

The West Hercules drilling rig leaves Skipavika, Norway April 1, 2018. (Gwladys Fouche/Reuters)
Amid growing protests against Arctic drilling, the Norwegian government proposes 48 new oil blocks in the Barents Sea

The center-right government of Prime Minister Erna Solberg aims for big cuts in climate gas emissions and an overhaul of polluting industries. That, however, is not reflected in the Barents Sea where oil companies are given green light for more drilling.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy on Thursday announced that it proposes drilling on additional 90 blocks, 48 of them in the Barents Sea.

“The offering of new, attractive acreage for exploration is a vital pillar in the government’s petroleum policy,” Minister Kjell-Børge Freiberg says.

“It is important to keep up the positive development with exploration in the Barents Sea, […] I hope this will lead to robust field development solutions and enhanced industrial activity in the North,” the minister adds.

The proposed new blocks are all located in so-called predefined areas, waters that already have been opened for exploration and where infrastructure is within reach. The plan will now undergo a hearing process, and affected parts are requested to give feedback on the proposed locations of the new blocks.

Climate strike
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg participates in the “Global Strike For Future” demonstration in central Stockholm, Sweden March 15, 2019. Youth in over 100 countries, including Norway, are marching to demand politicians act to halt climate change. (Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency/ via Reuters)

Opposition to the government’s petroleum policy is growing and the announcement from the oil ministry paradoxically came just a few days ahead of a major planned strike among school kids. More than 10,000 kids from all over the country were expected to take to the streets to rally against what they see as insufficient climate action from the government.

“It is about time that the politicians improve their knowledge about climate research and take the future of the youth seriously,” says Gaute Eiterjord, leader of environmental organisation Nature and Youth.

“This government contributes to the sabotage of the future of today’s youth, and we can do nothing than being enraged,” he says in a comment.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: The Arctic ‘locked-in’ for 3 to 5 °C temperature rise, UN report warns, Radio Canada International

Finland: Teen protesters in Helsinki demand climate action, Yle News

Norway: New climate report predicts extreme warming for Arctic Svalbard by 2100, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s quest for Arctic resources unhindered by climate crisis, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Thousands in Sweden join Greta Thunberg for worldwide climate strike, Radio Sweden

United States: 2018 was the 4th-warmest year on record, NOAA and NASA reveal, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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