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The last Norway’s Arctic coal mine will be closed until the 2023

OSLO, Sept 30 – Norway’s state-owned coal company will close its last mine in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago in 2023, it said on Thursday, causing the loss of 80 jobs and ending 120 years of exploitation, Reuters informs.

While Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani (SNSK) has shut its major mines in the islands over the past two decades, it had kept the smaller Mine 7 open, primarily to ensure supplies to a local coal-fired power plant, as well as some exports.

The Arctic islands are warming faster than almost anywhere on Earth, highlighting the risks to fragile ecosystems from climate change, and Norway aims to cut its overall emissions, although it also remains a major oil and gas producer.

Svalbard’s main settlement will temporarily switch its energy source to diesel in 2023 before establishing a permanent renewable electricity supply, negating the need for a local coal supply, SNSK said.

“Now that the contract to supply the power plant has been terminated there will no longer be a basis for operating the mine,” Chief Executive Morten Dyrstad said in a statement.

In the meantime however, Mine 7 will increase its output to a rate of 125,000 tonnes per year from the current 90,000 tonnes, taking advantage of high global prices to boost exports for the remaining two years.

But the volumes are small compared to SNSK’s historical output of several million tonnes annually, and the local economy is now primarily geared towards tourism and scientific research.

Located around 700 km (435 miles) north of the European mainland, Svalbard is governed under a 1920 treaty giving Norway sovereignty but allowing all nations signing it to do business there and to exploit its natural resources.

Russia operates a coal mine at its Barentsburg settlement, supplying a local power plant.

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Norwegian climate activists sue their country for drilling Arctic Oil

Norwegian climate activists have asked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to rule against Norway’s plans for more oil drilling in the Arctic, the campaigners said on Tuesday, arguing the country’s exploration deprives young people of their future, Financial post informs.

The lawsuit, by six individuals aged between 20 and 27 as well as Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth, is part of an emerging branch of law worldwide where plaintiffs go to court to make the case for curbing emissions that cause climate change.

In the Netherlands, a court recently ordered Shell to cut its emissions in a lawsuit brought by citizens who argued that the Anglo-Dutch oil major violated their human rights.

“The environmentalists argue that, by allowing new oil drilling in the midst of a climate crisis, Norway is in breach of fundamental human rights,” the campaigners said in a statement announcing their appeal to the ECHR.

Three courts in Norway have previously ruled in favor of the government, however, including in a verdict by the supreme court last December, thus exhausting domestic legal options.

“We have to take action now to limit irreversible damage to our climate and ecosystems to ensure livelihoods for the coming generations,” said Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen, 23, one of the activists who asked the ECHR to take up the Norwegian case.

Lasse Eriksen Bjoern, 24, an activist from the indigenous Sami people of northern Norway, said climate change was already endangering a way of life.

“The Sami culture is closely related to the use of nature, and fisheries are essential … A threat to our oceans is a threat to our people,” he said.

The ECHR’s rules require applicants to be directly and personally affected by alleged violations, while its judgments are binding for the countries concerned.

The court must now decide whether the case, billed by the activists as “the People vs. Arctic Oil,” is admissible.

Norway, western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer with a daily output of around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent, said last week it planned to continue current petroleum policies. (Editing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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NASA: Arctic warming is underestimated

According to a new NASA study, the Arctic is warming faster than it was thought previously.

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