March 21, 2023

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Thunberg, Indigenous protesters block the Norwegian Ministry of Energy over wind farms

  • Climate action cannot be at the expense of the original Thunberg
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that wind farms violate indigenous rights
  • The demonstration on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling
  • The Energy Department says it needs time to reach a compromise

OSLO (Reuters) – Environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg and dozens of other activists on Monday blocked the entrances to Norway’s Energy Ministry to protest the use of wind turbines on land used by indigenous Sami reindeer herders.

A strong advocate for ending the world’s dependence on carbon-based energy, Thunberg said the transition to green energy cannot come at the expense of indigenous rights.

“Indigenous peoples’ rights and human rights have to go hand in hand with climate protection and climate action,” Thunberg told Reuters, sitting outside the ministry’s headquarters. “It can’t happen at the expense of some people. So it’s not about climate justice.” Entrance with other protesters.

Norway’s Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that two wind farms built in central Norway violated Sami’s rights under international agreements, but the turbines were still operating more than 16 months later.

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Reindeer herders in the Scandinavian country say the sight and sound of giant wind power machines scare their animals and disrupt ancient traditions.

“We are here to demand that the turbines be demolished and that legal rights be respected,” said singer, songwriter, actress and activist Sami Ella Mari Haita Isaksen.

She and dozens of other Sami protesters have occupied the ministry’s reception area since Thursday. Police forcibly removed them around 0130 GMT on Monday and detained them before releasing them.

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They returned to the ministry, this time outside, around 0600 GMT.

The Sami marchers wore their traditional costume, often called a gakti, inside out as a sign of protest.

The ministry said the final fate of wind farms is a complex legal deadlock despite the Supreme Court ruling and hopes a compromise can be found.

The court ruling did not say what should happen next to the 151 turbines that can power some 100,000 Norwegian homes, or what should happen to the dozens of kilometers of roads built to facilitate construction.

“We understand that this issue is a burden on the reindeer herders,” Energy and Petroleum Minister Terje Asland said in a statement to Reuters.

He added, “The ministry will do everything in its power to contribute to resolving this issue and will not take more than necessary.”

Owners of Roan Vind and Fosen Vind farms include German Stadtwerke Muenchen and Norwegian utilities Statkraft and TroenderEnergi, as well as Swiss firms Energy Infrastructure Partners and BKW.

“We are confident that the ministry will find good solutions that will allow us to continue producing renewable energy while preserving the rights of reindeer owners,” Rowan Fend said in a statement.

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Utility BKW said it expects the wind turbines to remain in place, with compensatory measures in place to ensure the rights of Sami reindeer herders.

Munich Stadtwerki declined to comment.

Statkraft and Energy Infrastructure Partners could not be reached for comment.

Additional reporting by Nora Polley. Written by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Robert Purcell and Frank Jack Daniel

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