Thunberg, wind farm protesters block Norwegian ministries

  • Protesters say they want to "shut down the state"
  • Wind farms violate Indigenous rights, supreme court ruled
  • Energy minister says needs time to find compromise

OSLO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Indigenous and environmental activists, including Greta Thunberg, blocked access to several Norwegian ministries on Tuesday, expanding a protest to demand the removal of wind turbines from reindeer pastures.

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

Police began removing a handful of demonstrators from outside the finance ministry, a new target for demonstrators, while over a hundred demonstrators chanted "C, S, V", the abbreviation of a 1970s Sami slogan meaning "Show Sami spirit".

Meanwhile, campaigners pressed on with a demonstration at the nearby energy ministry, which also houses the transport and family ministries, and at the ministry of agriculture.

Thunberg, an advocate for ending the world's reliance on carbon-based power, has said governments should not allow the transition to green energy to be at the expense of Indigenous Sami rights.

"They should have seen it coming for violating human rights," Thunberg told Reuters when asked about the need for the protests, while she was sitting outside the energy ministry.

One of the campaigners said they would "close down the state, ministry by ministry" for as long as necessary.

"The state has let the Sami people down," Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen told Reuters.

"I hope some ministers will soon understand that the only way out of this human rights violation is to tear town the wind turbines."

Campaigners from Nature and Youth and the Norwegian Samirs Riksforbund Nuorat block the entrances to the Ministry of Oil and Energy with Greta Thunberg in Oslo, Norway, February 27, 2023. NTB/Ole Berg-Rusten via REUTERS

Reindeer herders say the wind power machinery frightens animals and disrupts age-old traditions.


The energy ministry has said the fate of the turbines is a complex legal quandary despite the supreme court ruling and is hoping to find a compromise, but that it could take another year to get a new decision in the Fosen case.

"The key is to get a new decision that can stand the test of time," Energy Minister Terje Aasland told Reuters after meeting with demonstrators outside his ministry.

"There are conflicts of interests and we need to handle them as best as possible," he said. "We need to try to include Indigenous human rights in a good way, not least ensure reindeer herding can have a safe future."

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

"We seek to find ... mitigation measures in dialogue with the reindeer herders and the ministry that ensure the operating basis and the Sami opportunity for cultural expression," Statkraft said in a statement to Reuters.

Roan Vind on Monday told Reuters it trusted the energy ministry would find solutions to allow the production of renewable energy to continue.

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

Stadtwerke Muenchen declined to comment.

Writing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Christina Fincher and Barbara Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Oversees news coverage from Norway for Reuters and loves flying to Svalbard in the Arctic, oil platforms in the North Sea, and guessing who is going to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Born in France and with Reuters since 2010, she has worked for The Guardian, Agence France-Presse and Al Jazeera English, among others, and speaks four languages.