On March 3, the largest civil disobedience action in recent Norwegian history came to an end. 16 Sami activists occupied the lobby of the Oil and Energy Department, and over 1,500 demonstrators attended in Oslo, including around 100 activists partaking in the occupations. Beginning as a single day occupation to spread awareness about the illegal construction of wind turbines on Indigenous land, the demonstration ended as a burgeoning, semi-mass movement. Although the movement forced the current government to meet with movement’s leaders, unfortunately nothing was won; the demonstration ended without the government agreeing to a single demand or concession.
The Arctic had once been a largely peaceful zone, harboring cooperative international scientific research. But today, it is swiftly becoming one of militarized power politics. Heavily armed nations surround the melting Arctic Ocean, with its unstable environment of eroding shorelines, accessible natural resources, and contested maritime passages. This February, the U.S. launched little publicized, month-long military exercises in the Arctic, hosted by Finland and Norway. The Pentagon’s European Command described the exercises – named Arctic Forge 23, Defense Exercise North, and Joint Viking – as a way “to demonstrate readiness by deploying a combat-credible force to enhance power in NATO’s northern flank”.
At the start of the coronavirus epidemic, Norway’s government said it would help businesses by making it easier for them to get rid of workers. But trade unions and left-wing parties fiercely denied that these measures were “inevitable” — and they won a bailout to serve working people, not just their employers. Like most of Europe, Norway has been hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic. After several weeks of dragging its feet, on March 13, the government moved into action, following its neighbor Denmark in closing schools, kindergartens, and then the border. It made a list of those exercising “critical functions in society,” like nurses, transit workers, cleaners, and people working in grocery stores, who can still work and have daycare for their kids. Like most of Europe, Norway has been hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic. After several weeks of dragging its feet, on March 13, the government moved into action, following its neighbor Denmark in closing schools, kindergartens, and then the border. It made a list of those exercising “critical functions in society,” like nurses, transit workers, cleaners, and people working in grocery stores, who can still work and have daycare for their kids.
Norway is now the world’s leading whaling nation, killing more whales in the past two years than Japan and Iceland combined. A new report released today calls on the international community to respond to Norway’s systematic efforts to weaken management rules and improve market conditions for its whalers. Frozen in Time: How Modern Norway Clings to Its Whaling Past, produced by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI)...
The crisis of social democracy is being debated throughout Europe. Several of the historically strong labour parties have almost been wiped out in elections while others seem unable to recover from defeat. In the last few years, a number of social democratic parties have ended up with only one-digit election results (Greece, Ireland, Iceland, The Netherlands, France), while others have experienced major setbacks. The Norwegian Labour Party, for example, has experienced two of its worst elections – 2001 and 2017 – since the 1920s. Significant parts of the trade union movement believe that the party made serious blunders in what should have been an easy victory during last year’s parliamentary elections. There is no doubt that social democracy is in a deep international crisis, although conditions vary widely between different countries.
This was definitely a result of a bottom-up movement. It has had a few strong voices for quite some time, like Arild Knutsen and Thorvald Stoltenberg. Since the beginning of 2016 The Association for Safer Drug Policies has become a strong voice in Norwegian drug policy, and together with the other organisations working for drug policy reform we have been able to shift the centreline of the Norwegian public debate and influence the programs of almost all major political parties, including the party of government. Even though we were certain changes would come at some point, we didn’t expect our Health Minister from the Conservative party to change his view on decriminalisation as fast as he did. It really takes courage to front new drug policies and to take a new stand in a heated debate like this, like he did.
By Tone Sutterud and Elisabeth Ulven for The Guardian - The Norwegian government is being sued by climate activists over a decision to open up areas of the Arctic Ocean for oil exploration, a move they say endangers the lives of existing and future generations. The plaintiffs, led by environmental organisations Greenpeace and Youth and Nature, will on Tuesday claim that the Norwegian government has violated a constitutional environmental law which guarantees citizens’ rights to a healthy environment. The law, known as Section 112, states: “Everyone has the right to an environment that safeguards their health and to nature where production ability and diversity are preserved. Natural resources must be managed from a long-term and versatile consideration which also upholds this right for future generations.” “We have for years tried to stop the expansion of Norway’s oil extraction, from both local and global considerations,” said Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway. “As far as granting concessions for the Arctic is concerned, not only have our objections been ignored and overrun, but the state has also paid no heed to the guidelines from their own appointed advisers, such as the polar institute and the environment agency, who both recommended that the majority of concessions in this area be turned down.” In fighting the case, Greenpeace is relying on the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which states that to meet the goals set out in the 2015 Paris accord, oil production must be wound down, not escalated.
By Rachel Fixsen for The Guardian - In an act of international solidarity between indigenous peoples, the Sami parliament in Norway has persuaded the country’s second largest pension fund to withdraw its money from companies linked to a controversial oil project backed by Donald Trump. The project to build the 1,900km Dakota Access oil pipeline across six US states has prompted massive protests from Native American activists at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. This week, after lobbying by the Sami parliament, Norway’s local authority pension fund KLP announced it would sell of shares worth $58m in companies building the pipeline. Vibeke Larsen, president of the Sami parliament, said the pension fund announced the move when she arrived at a meeting in Oslo to discuss Dakota Access. “We feel a strong solidarity with other indigenous people in other parts of the world, so we are doing our part in Norway by putting pressure on the pension funds,” she told the Guardian. The Sami – formerly known to outsiders as Lapps, a term they reject as derogatory – are an indigenous people living in the Arctic area of Sápmi in the far north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia’s Kola peninsula. Although they are seen as one people, there are several kinds of Sami, and their rights differ significantly depending on the nation state they live in, according to the United Nations.
By Staff of Stop ETP - The Council on Ethics for Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is assessing whether Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) violated the fund’s guidelines for responsible investment, reported Reuters today. Similar reviews in the past has led to divestments, such as the fund’s 2015 decision to sell off more than $8 billion of investments in coal and related industries. As of the end of 2016, the $1 trillion fund has held $248 million of ETP bonds. “This is good news, it shows that our voices are being heard,” said Dallas Goldtooth, Keep It In the Ground Campaigner with Indigenous Environmental Network. “We encourage all investors to question the Human and Indigenous rights impacts of their fossil fuel investments.”
By George Lakey for Yes! Magazine - Donald Trump’s obvious affection for authoritarians is prompting worried comparisons of our polarized country to the polarized Germany of the 1920s and ’30s. Since I’m known to see in polarization both crisis and opportunity, my friends are asking me these days about Hitler, the worst-case scenario. I grant the possibility of the United States going fascist, but argue that will not happen if we choose the practical steps taken by progressive Nordic social movements when they faced dangerous polarization. Consider the Norwegians, who experienced extreme polarization at the same time as the Germans did. The Norwegian economic elite organized against striking laborers and produced a polarized country that included both Nazi Brown Shirts goose-stepping in the streets and Norwegian Communists agitating to overthrow capitalism. Many Norwegians were flattered by the Nazi belief that the tall, blue-eyed blonde was the pinnacle of human development. Others vehemently denounced the racism underlying such beliefs. The politician Vidkun Quisling, an admirer of Hitler, organized in 1933 a Nazi party, and its uniformed paramilitary wing sought to provoke violent clashes with leftist students.
By Truls Gullowsen for The Leap - As a Norwegian, I admit to being kind of proud to see Norway at the top of the UN’s latest global happiness index. And the ranking makes sense: We’re blessed with snow, water, and mountains, effective public education and health care systems, plentiful jobs in a well-regulated economy, and a free and open democracy not too hobbled by fake news or Trumpian bluster. However, it seems our beautiful country has become complacent in its happiness. In spite of the climate crisis and the ever-growing need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, last year the Norwegian government—for the first time in 20 years—opened up a new oil frontier in the melting and vulnerable Barents Sea above the Arctic Circle. And last month, the government announced yet another push for Arctic oil, inviting oil companies to bid for 93 new licenses. The happy Norwegian government knows that burning oil causes climate change. They know there’s already more oil in existing fields than we can afford to burn. They know that burning oil melts Arctic ice and fuels extreme weather events like typhoons and droughts, causing immense suffering around the world.
By Staff of Norwegian Government - 'Norway plays a leading role in the work to promote global health, and is one of the largest donors to gender equality and women's health efforts. The Government is increasing its support for family planning and safe abortion by NOK 85 million compared with 2016. We will continue to be a driving force for women's health internationally. At a time when this agenda has come under pressure, a joint effort is particularly important,' said Prime Minister Erna Solberg. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 47 000 women die, and nearly 7 million need medical treatment every year, as a result of unsafe abortions. More than 225 million women would like to have access to contraception, but do not have access today.
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams - Taking a page from young people in the United States and elsewhere who are standing up for their right to healthy environment, Norwegian youth on Monday filed suitagainst their country's government for expanding Arctic oil drilling despite increasingly dire warnings about the impact such activity is having on the planet's climate. The plaintiffs, which include Greenpeace Norway and the nation's largest youth-led organization, Nature and Youth,
By Emery P. Dalesio for Associated Press - RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — One of the world’s largest investment funds is dumping its shares in Duke Energy Corp. because it sees too much risk in what it called the largest U.S. electric company’s history of environmental damage. The decision to bar investments in Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy was announced Wednesday by the arm of Norway’s central bank that manages the pension fund created by the Scandinavian country’s oil wealth.