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19 de febrero | | | | |

Norway: oil and gas development ban in area of great cultural and natural beauty

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The Norwegian government´s decision to ban oil and gas activities in the Lofoten Islands, in the Arctic, is a “huge victory”, said the chair of environmental federation Friends of the Earth Norway, Silje Lundberg. She warned that the challenge now is to have a permanent ban and to fight against fossil fuel projects authorized in other areas of the Norwegian coastline and the rest of the country.

The governmental decision was announced in January and states that the ban will cover at least the next four years. Friends of the Earth Norway aims to make this decision permanent, because this is the sixth time since 2001 that they, together with other actors, work on the defense of the Lofoten Islands, since the protection resolutions are only temporary. It was in 1994 that the Norwegian government opened these islands for oil drilling for the first time.

“Six times we´ve managed to have the government say no to oil drilling here and that the area should be protected. But now we are working on a long term goal which is to have permanent protected areas” said Silje to Real World Radio.

The Chair of Friends of the Earth Norway highlighted that this is a highly important area for ecosystems, fishing activities and the population who depend on these activities and have chosen this place for its natural richness, among other reasons. Silje believes that the government should also leave oil in the ground because of its importance for the fight against climate change.

A press release issued on January 16th by Friends of the Earth Europe, which gathers Friends of the Earth groups from that continent, states that “due to its uniquely rich biodiversity and fragile ecosystems, oil drilling around the Lofoten Islands in Norway could have devastating impacts on an area that hosts unique cold-water reefs, huge numbers of seabirds, and pods of sperm and killer whales”.

“The area is estimated to hold 1,3 billion barrels of oil which would lead to more than 500 million tons of CO2-emissions if burned – 10 times Norway’s annual GHG emissions.”, they add.

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