Why Is Greta Thunberg Protesting a Wind Farm?

Why Greta Thunberg is Protesting a Wind Farm: The Importance of Environmental Justice

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg made headlines when she was arrested with other activists during a protest in front of Norwegian government ministry buildings. The protest was calling for the government to shut down a wind farm project. At first glance, it might seem strange that Thunberg, a vocal advocate for renewable energy, would be protesting a wind farm. However, this project highlights the importance of environmental justice and the need to consider marginalized communities in the transition to clean energy.

The Conflict Over the Wind Farm

The wind farm in question has been a center of conflict between the Norwegian government and Indigenous people for over a decade. In 2010, the government granted a permit for the wind project to move forward in the central region of the country, despite two of the six wind farm locations being on land where the Indigenous Sámi people herd reindeer in the winter. The Sámi contested the project, alleging that the farm would impede their herding practices and violate their rights under international law.

Despite their concerns, the government allowed the wind farm to be built anyway, and it started operating in 2019. The Sámi people’s concerns about the turbines’ effect on the reindeer turned out to be valid. Sámi herder Leif Arne Jåma told Earth Island Journal in 2021 that the animals steer clear of the turbines because they are disturbed by their view and noise. Moreover, the blades can throw large chunks of icy snow in the coldest months, which can be dangerous for both humans and animals.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling

In 2021, Norway’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the wind farm violated the Sámi people’s rights. However, the park has continued operating since the decision. The protest where Thunberg was arrested was organized by Indigenous activists and environmental groups, who demand that the government shut down the wind farm. A simultaneous protest was also organized outside the country’s energy ministry, and the group protested outside the ministries on Monday and Tuesday.

The Importance of Environmental Justice

Thunberg has been vocal about the importance of centering marginalized communities in the transition to clean energy. “Indigenous rights, human rights, must go hand-in-hand with climate protection and climate action,” Thunberg told Reuters. “That can’t happen at the expense of some people. Then it is not climate justice.” The conflict over the wind farm highlights the importance of considering environmental justice and the perils of letting the renewable energy revolution steamroll forward without considering marginalized communities’ needs.

Final Thoughts

The wind farm protest in Norway is a reminder that the clean energy transition is more complex than it may seem. Green transitions that don’t center marginalized communities risk creating a new world that is just as damaging as the one we have now. By demanding environmental justice, Thunberg and the Indigenous activists and environmental groups in Norway are highlighting the importance of considering the needs of all communities in the transition to a sustainable future.