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'Green' colonialism is ruining Indigenous lives in Norway

20 82 81
01.08.2020

In April this year, wind energy company Eolus Vind broke ground for the Oyfjellet wind plant, a new wind power project in Saepmie, the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Saami people, which stretch across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. This led to a conflict between the Norwegian authorities, project developers and the Saami reindeer herding community Jillen Njaarke, which reveals the numerous reckless practices behind Europe's "green" energy transition.

The German owners of the Oyfjellet wind project, Aquila Capital, have already made a lucrative deal to supply the power produced by the wind plant to the nearby aluminium smelter by Alcoa. On the project's website, the developers claim to "promote growth, green industry and green employment through long-term investment in renewable energy".

Considering the effect of their actions on the Jillen Njaarke, their mission statement is not only misleading, but is also covering up the fact that the project is disrupting the sustainable way of living of the Saami community, which protects their land.

Research demonstrates that the Saami's semi-domesticated reindeer avoid grazing in areas where they can see or hear wind turbines. A project such as Oyfjellet would disrupt the migration of reindeer, especially in the winter, when they are often weakened and at risk, particularly pregnant mothers and newborn calves.

It is yet another source of distress for the Sami herders and their reindeer, adding to the uncertainties of a rapidly changing climate, increasing pressures on ecosystems and land grabbing.

On paper, the Norwegian reindeer herding act should provide legal protection against the blocking of reindeer migration routes, like in the case of this new wind plant project, but the Norwegian authorities allowed the construction to move ahead.

On June 31, the reindeer Saami herders from Jillen Njaarke announced they were going to court to stop the wind plant. They are determined to protect their lands from yet another encroachment by the Norwegian authorities. The community is genuinely afraid for its future.

"Humans are born, and they die, but the mountains live forever," Heihka Kappfjell, a 53-year-old reindeer herder from Jillen Njaarke, told us. "What frightens me the most about the wind industry is that without the mountains there is nothing left for us Saami. Nothing that protects us, takes care of us and gives us comfort."

Some 98 percent of Norway's electricity production today comes from renewable energy sources. But in most public debates or political decisions, the detrimental impact that this has had on Saami livelihoods is readily overlooked. The Oyfjellet wind plant is not the first encroachment Jillen Njaarke have faced. Various hydropower plants in........

© Al Jazeera