On 23 August, members of the international Extinction Rebellion activist group blocked the entrance to the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. About 17 demonstrators occupied the reception center of the agency while dozens more protested in front of the building. The event lasted over five hours before security forces dispersed the crowd and made multiple arrests. The police said they detained 19 activists by midday, and apprehended an additional 29 protestors when they obstructed a major city road. The occurrence was a part of a ten-day demonstration in opposition to Norway’s massive oil industry, and follows a recent rise in both ecological attention and protests.
The Norwegian energy debate largely focuses on the issues of oil and hypocrisy. Norway strives to be a global leader in environmental protection and renewable resources, but their efforts and reputation are damaged by persistent production of oil and natural gas. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the World Wildlife Fund Global Lead for Climate and Energy, said that “there is no future for fossil fuels in the new-climate aligned economy emerging in the push to have net-zero emissions by 2050 . . . Norway’s position will increase the risk of the world reaching fragile climate tipping points, which in turn will cause devastating impacts on the natural world on which we depend.” Despite their abundant use of renewable power sources, which provide them with 98% of their electricity production, Norway continues to pursue profit over the planet.
Oil and natural gas are heated topics in the climate change discussion. In Norway, the growth and promotion of fossil fuel fields exacerbates the environmental crisis the world currently faces. Norway’s government and the companies they work with continuously seek the expansion of oil, despite peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience like Monday’s protest. These protests signal an important societal shift towards climate-conscious systems. Norway needs to set a strong example for the international community. That involves holding themselves to the environmental standards they advocate for. The European country cannot say they strive for a more sustainable world when their actions directly contradict the idea.
Environmental issues and climate change have become increasingly prevalent concerns as Norway’s 13 September election draws near, where the center-left is expected to defeat the current conservative government. Fossil fuels, in contrast to their minute internal usage, are the country’s biggest industry and a massive part of their trade.
Norway is Western Europe’s largest producer of crude oil and natural gas, supplying almost four million barrels per day. According to the International Trade Administration, it is the world’s third largest exporter of natural gas, and 13th in exporting oil. Furthermore, the natural gas that Norway ships out supplies 20% of Europe’s gas consumption. Norwegian strength in this sector makes them reluctant to abandon the industry, but the planet’s continuation and future generations require a reduction in fossil fuels.
The use of oil, which can cause terrible devastation and pollution, must be minimized for the sake of the planet’s long-term survival. Norway’s continued expansion into petroleum and the market they supply will only harm the environment. Fossil fuels must be phased out while international actors promote changes in power sources. Norway’s lack of accountability in their ecological operations and pursuits threatens the world we inhabit.
Demonstrations like the one on Monday indicate a desire for new policies- a call that the Norwegian government must answer. Norway, as well as other countries that stand to be environmental powerhouses, need to act responsibly. If one has the ability and resources to foster world development, providing that help is a way to improve the lives of every person on the planet. Conversely, a lack of leadership threatens the air we breathe, creating a dangerous global atmosphere of destruction and complacency.