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Why Greta Thunberg Is Protesting...a Wind Farm

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Climate activist Greta Thunberg joined hundreds of protesters on Monday to demonstrate against the operation of wind turbines in Norway on lands used by the Indigenous Sami to herd reindeer.


Thunberg blocked entrances to Norway’s Ministry of Energy, arguing the transition to green energy could not trample the rights of indigenous people.

"Indigenous rights, human rights, must go hand-in-hand with climate protection and climate action. That can't happen at the expense of some people. Then it is not climate justice," Thunberg told Reuters as she was chained to the building's entrance. 

Norway's supreme court in 2021 ruled that two wind farms built at Fosen in central Norway violated Sami rights under international conventions, but the turbines remain in operation more than 16 months later.

Police on Monday afternoon cleared one side entrance to the government building complex housing the energy ministry, carrying away some demonstrators.

"Right now I mostly feel very, very convinced that the Sami at Fosen should get their rights, I feel this very strongly and there are a lot of emotions," one of the demonstrators, who gave her name as Joni, told Reuters after being removed.

Reindeer herders in the Nordic country say the sight and sound of the giant wind power machinery frighten their animals and disrupt age-old traditions.

"We are here to demand that the turbines must be torn down and that legal rights must be respected," said Sami singer-songwriter, actress and activist Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen.

She and a dozen other Sami demonstrators had occupied the ministry's reception area since Thursday. Police forcibly removed them around 2:30 a.m (1:30 GMT) on Monday and detained them before releasing them.

The ministry said the ultimate fate of the wind farms is a complex legal quandary despite the supreme court ruling and is hoping to find a compromise.

The court's verdict did not say what should happen next to the 151 turbines, which can power some 100,000 Norwegian homes, or what should happen to the dozens of kilometres (miles) of roads built to facilitate the construction. (Reuters)


Terje Aasland, Minister of Energy and Petroleum, told Reuters they understood the difficulty of the situation. 

"We understand that this case is a burden for the reindeer herders," Aasland said. "The ministry will do what it can to contribute to resolving this case and that it will not take longer than necessary."

Owners of the Roan Vind and Fosen Vind farms expressed hope that a solution will be found. 

"We trust that the ministry will find good solutions allowing us to continue the production of renewable energy while maintaining the rights of the reindeer owners," Roan Vind said in a statement.

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