Unfazed by youth climate protests, Norwegian gov expands Arctic drilling

Elementary, high school and college students gather in front of the Parliament building in Oslo on March 22, 2019, to rally for the climate and against politicians who they dont think are doing enough to halt climate change. Over 40,000 people took part in another rally against climate change in Norway on Friday, May 24, 2019. (Tom Hansen/AFP/Getty Images)
Environmentalists say the Norwegian government neglects not only the young protesters, but also professional advice of leading experts.

Forty thousand children and youth from all over Norway took part in last Friday’s country-wide rallies against climate change. Rapid action is needed to halt the aggravating global warming, the youngsters demanded as they lined up in front of town halls and government buildings across Norway.

The protest was part of the international FridaysForFuture initiative originally started by activist Greta Thunberg.

Only a few days later comes what environmentalists see as a rude response from government. The Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy on Tuesday announced that it is ready to award oil companies another 90 exploration licenses, among them as many as 46 in the Barents Sea.

“The expansion of the APA-area [Awards in Predefined Areas] is important to ensure effective exploration of larger parts of the Norwegian Continental Shelf, including the Barents Sea,” says Oil Minister Kjell-Børge Freiberg. “The expansion will give the companies access to new opportunities that can enable value creation, employment and technology development,” he underlines in a statement.

Awards in Predefined Areas (APA) is one of two equal licensing rounds on the Norwegian continental shelf. The APA area includes the geologically most mature parts of the Norwegian continental shelf. Companies will have to bid for the licenses by August 27th.

Environmentalists outraged

Environmental organization Nature and Youth is strongly critical towards the new drilling licenses.

“This is like pissing on the climate-striking youth,” says organization leader Gaute Eiterjord.

“Over the last months, thousands of youth have skipped school to strike because we fear for our future, and our main demand is a halt in oil exploration,” Eiterjord underlines in a comment.

A general view of the offshore Kristin oil and gas platform in the North Sea, about 100 km (62 miles) east from Kristiansund, Norway, June 25, 2012. (Koranyi Balazs/Reuters)

According to the organization, the oil drilling is in violation also with expert advice from leading research institutions like the Marine Research Institute, as well as the Norwegian Environment Agency.

Both institutions have warned against exploration in parts of the area because of vulnerable fish stocks and sea birds.

“The government simply says that it does not care neither about climate, nor about nature diversity,” Eiterjord says.

In a joint report on the 2019 license awards, Nature and Youth and six other environmental organizations demand that government backtracks in its oil policy for the north

“The APA is obstructing green transformation, will increase Norway’s and the world’s climate gas emissions, it will constitute a financial risk and is a major ecological threat because it proposes oil exploration in areas with weak preparedness and in vicinity of very vulnerable areas,” the report says.

Among the organizations behind the document is the Norwegian Coastal Fishing Association.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Sea levels could rise by up to 2 metres by 2100, new study finds, CBC News

Finland: New climate studies program coming to schools in Finland, Yle News

Norway: Temperatures on Svalbard have been above normal for 100 straight months, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: North Pole camp season cancelled before it even started, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s emissions are rising instead of falling, Radio Sweden

United States: 2018 was the 4th-warmest year on record, NOAA and NASA reveal, CBC News

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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