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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Climate protests target oil industry

Norway was the target of more climate protests heading into the weekend, with Norwegian oil and energy company Equinor getting most of the blame. One frustrated professional skier accused Equinor of melting the snow needed for skiing, while more Norwegian art was vandalized in Oslo.

Skier Emil Johansson Kringstad joined a climate protest Friday at a ski season opener in the Norwegian mountains at Beitostølen, where snow had to be brought in to ski on. His sign called for a halt to Equinor’s oil operations, because “tomorrow is melting.” Norwegian oil company Equinor is a major sports sponsor and was accused ot using the Norwegian Ski Federation for so-called “sportswashing.” The federation, meanwhile, needs sponsor revenue. PHOTO: Greenpeace

The annual ski season opener in the mountains at Beitostølen was the latest winter sports event to be marred by a lack of natural snow needed for racing trails. Like the biathlon season opener at Sjusjøen last weekend, snow had to controversially be produced and spread by work crews instead of falling from the skies, and Swedish cross-country skier Emil Johansson Kringstad lashed out at Norway’s fossil fuel industry and specifically Equinor.

“The climate crisis is the most severe threat against ski sports today, and fossil energy is the main cause of the climate crisis,” Kringstad claimed in a protest coordinated by Greenpeace Nordic activists. Kringstad noted that Scandinavian winters are “becoming ever shorter and we can see tomorrow melting right before our eyes.

“As a cross-country skier, there’s no doubt I want to shed some light on how Equinor, Norway’s greatest climate perpetrator, is largely to blame for this.”

‘Sportswashing’
Professional skiers and other athletes rely on fossil fuel themselves to travel to international sporting events, but Kringstad nonetheless accused Equinor of spending millions to sponsor professional sports as a form of “sportswashing,” to improve its reputation. Greenpeace activists covered up some of Equinor’s logos and advertising in the finish area at Beitostølen “to underline the absurdity of ski sports being sponsored by the greatest threat to its own existence,” according to Andreas Randøy of Greenpeace.

The organization firmly believes that Equinor’s carbon emissions have contributed to the climate change that threatens the entire globe, and also has become glaringly evident to skiers. Several ski events have been cancelled or postponed for lack of snow, and the season that traditionally could begin in November in Norway has become much shorter.

The Norwegian Ski Federation and several other athletics organizations, meanwhile, rely heavily on sponsor revenue from companies like Equinor to be able to finance competition and the sport itself. Police, meanwhile, reported that around 14 Greenpeace demonstrators were expelled from the scene and that they were peacefully escorted out.

Kringstad, meanwhile, was surprised to learn later that the jury of the competition at Beitostølen had decided to fine him in accordance with an Interational Ski Federation (FIS) rule against “marketing a political message.” Kringstad was ordered to pay a fine low enough (under 1,000 Swiss franc) that it can’t be appealed. “If we’d fined him more, we risked him appealing and attracting more attention to his cause,” Torbjørn Broks Pettersen, leader of the competition, told state broadcaster NRK. “We didn’t want to contribute to that.”

Farther south in Oslo, meanwhile, another group of climate activists threw yellow paint on several of the statues in Frogner’s Vigeland Park, including Gustav Vigeland’s famed Monolith. The group wants to halt all new oil exploration.

It was the second attack in the past week on Norwegian art, which has become a trend elsewhere in the world, and it infuriates the leader of Oslo’s city government, Raymond Johansen. He claimed on social media Friday afternoon that such vandalism is counterproductive, and takes attention away from actually solving the climate problem.

“Vandalizing a fantastic work of art in one of Oslo’s green lungs has zero positive effect on the climate issue,” stated Johansen, adding that a formal complaint would be filed with Oslo Police.

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund

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