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Norwegian youth against production of fossil fuel

Young activists demand transition into clean energy, end to production of fossil fuel -- source of great revenue through exports

Saadet Firdevs Apari   | 26.10.2021
Norwegian youth against production of fossil fuel

ANKARA

Young activists in Norway that owes its high level of wealth to oil and natural gas exports are greatly worried over their future and demand abolition of law allowing the production of fossil fuel causing environmental pollution.

According to the International Energy Agency, Norway ranked 13th and eighth, respectively, in the production of oil and natural gas worldwide, causing environmental pollution in the Arctic region and leaving a large amount of carbon footprint on the world.

Norway deposits most of the revenues earned through exports of oil and natural gas in its wealth fund for the sake of the future generations, while the young activists disturbed by the environmental destruction caused by this export organize large-scale protests, demanding the government to step into action.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Thor Due, environmental organization Friends of the Earth's adviser on petroleum policies, along with Young Friends of the Earth Vice President Lea Justine and Norwegian activist Jannickie Totland, delivered remarks ahead of the coming Climate Summit in the Glasgow city of Scotland next month.

According to Due, the prosperity level of Norway will not be affected that much if the production of fossil fuel was halted as the country has directed its oil and natural gas revenues to financial investments, such as stocks and real estate, which, he said, generated more revenues compared to fossil fuel exports.

Due also said they requested the government to revoke oil exploration licenses, adding that there was no more roof left in the atmosphere for carbon dioxide emerging from carbon and fossil fuels.

"What frightens me the most is that we will still base our economy around pumping up new oil and gas," he said, noting that the climate could no longer tolerate this.

Referring to the upcoming Climate Summit in Glasgow, he said: "Every year, we say this summit may be the most important. That is the case, because every year we are going towards an even worse climate future. … I tend to be optimistic and really hope that (we) can do something great but it is only up to the politicians and what they are able to do.”

He further noted that the politicians allowing climate change through law should be held accountable and it was politicians' responsibility to pass laws ensuring implementation of climate-related measures.

Lea Justine Nesheim, the vice president of the Young Friends of the Earth, said: “I do believe that the climate crisis will be a detrimental force for our planet and human kind, and Norway is responsible for bringing more fossil fuel into the market so we are earning money in creating climate change. … It is terrible, and there are other people who are going to be more affected by climate change than us, we are creating a problem for them.”

The new government in the post-election period has yet to take action in this regard, she said, noting that the protests would hopefully prevent it from ignoring the realities.

Underlining that the governing body was a minority government and this made an alliance in the parliament a necessity to amend the law, she went on to say that there were several small-scale parties in the parliament with more progressive and green policies and her organization hoped it could cooperate with the minority government to start a green transition.

Asked about the possible decline in Norway’s prosperity in case of reduction of fossil fuel exports, she said she was not concerned at all as the wealth fund was diversified now.

“We will have a smaller decline in income but I think that if the politicians manage to transition the Norwegian economy in a plan in a good way than we can move on without any decline in welfare and the climate crisis is way worse than a bit less money, welfare. … The climate crisis is going to make our lives very difficult to live and much more unpredictable. … Many people from my generation are more than willing to make changes in our lives so that … we can change, save the world by living differently,” she said.

As for the Glasgow summit, she said politicians were talking too much but taking little action and noted that she hoped they could reach more production agreements that would potentially benefit the world in the future.

Jannickie Totland, a 23-year-old activist, for her part, said the younger generations are more concerned about the environment and future, also the oil and natural gas were the biggest industries of Norway, which made her generation “the most privileged generation” in her country’s history.

“But we are also very, very concerned about the future because of the climate crisis so I think more and more young people want Norway to stop and end their oil industry,” she said.

She added that her organization together with some others sued the Norwegian state a few years ago for violating the constitution but the high court ruled that the country would not be held responsible for natural gas and oil used abroad.

"I think more and more young people think the exact opposite that we, as a privileged country, are perhaps the most responsible for the burns,” she said.

Noting that she understood how people working in fossil fuel industries were concerned over unemployment if climate-friendly organizations' efforts ever bore fruit, she said the future generations mattered and it was important to think and care about the world and its future.

Arguing that the transition from the oil and natural gas industry to clean energy should take place sooner or later, she said the consequences would be dire if drilling for oil and natural gas continued and the global environment was damaged further.

Given that the environment is the source of life, the future generations will have nothing left, according to Totland, who noted that she was concerned more about the future than the revenue generated from fossil fuel.

“In Norway, we just had the election for the new parliament when we saw or heard politicians speaking... In comparison to four, eight years ago, they spoke more about climate and the environment but I am still very concerned because I feel like they do not listen to us,” she said.

* Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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