The struggle to raise awareness about climate justice in Norway

by Susanne Lende last modified 10 July 2015 04:17 PM
The struggle to raise awareness about climate justice in Norway

Harstad, northern Norway. Photo: Church of Norway.

10 July 2015

One should almost think that it would be obsolete to talk about justice and peace in the well-functioning society of Norway. Moreover, to talk about climate justice in a supposedly eco-friendly society seems unnecessary.

However, knowing that Norway is a major oil and gas nation it suddenly seems more than relevant to poke a little in the industry. The fact that Norway is one of the world’s largest contributors to CO2 emissions, if one counts all the exported fossil fuels, makes it even more evident that the Church of Norway has to raise its voice for a different way of thinking.

Taking part in the public debate in a credible way as a stakeholder also makes it necessary to be well informed on all the different perspectives: the stances of the petroleum industry as well as the environmentalists, along with business interests and political views.

With this backdrop, in late June I joined two of the bishops in the Church of Norway on an intensive and interesting tour to the very North of Norway. Read the post of Bishop Tor B. Jørgensen.

Visiting major gas installations such as Statoil’s Melkøya, talking to politicians and meeting the local residents who very much rely on the jobs created by the presence of the oil industry.

I am fortunate to be living in a country where human rights, peaceful coexistence and the overall living conditions are excellent. However, many times I wonder if we perhaps are too fortunate. In our comfortable lives, it is easy to forget that it all comes with a price.

The Church of Norway General Synod has issued several statements in recent years. All of them confirm and strengthen the church’s stance on consumption, justice and environmental concerns. The statements show the profound changes that are needed in our way of life and challenge the church to help individuals and congregations seek an “earthbound Christian practice” where we follow Christ in service for creation and fellow human beings.

The backdrop for these statements is a series of earlier resolutions on issues of environment, consumption and justice. The Church of Norway General Synod in 2001 resolved “The vision must be to make the church the world’s largest environmental movement” and that the topic “Consumption and Justice” concerns the entire church community.

Thus, the pilgrimage to the production sites of the oil industry in the North of Norway is understood as a contribution to the ecumenical Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. We are on our way to climate justice – in Paris, amongst our fellow Norwegians and in our hearts. It is time to change!