Greenpeace activists “celebrate” Norwegian National Day at Statoil headquarters

Feature story - May 17, 2010
(Calgary) — Greenpeace activists are “celebrating” outside Statoil headquarters in Calgary this morning in honour of Norwegian National Day, and demanding that Statoil get out of the tar sands.

As Norway marks its independence from Denmark, Greenpeace asks the country to claim independence from dirty tar sands oil. Statoil, a state-owned Norwegian energy company, owns 1,100 square kilometres of tar sands leases and is a major contributor to the destruction of Indigenous territories, forests and wetlands in northern Alberta.  

Activists at the Calgary Statoil building (635 8th Ave. SW), are playing the Norwegian national anthem, handing out leaflets and Norwegian flags smeared with mock tar sands oil and holding up a banner reading: “Norway: Independence from Tar Sands!” 

Between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m., special guests Statoil CEO Helge Lund and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach (activists in costume) will stop by the celebration. Lund will dip a large Norwegian flag into a barrel of mock oil, symbolic of the stain the tar sands represent on national pride, while Stelmach encourages him. The activists plan to be outside Statoil until 11:30 a.m. 

“There are many reasons to celebrate Norway today, but Statoil’s tar sands investments are not something to celebrate, and essentially undermine any progress Norway has made on curbing emissions,” Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema said from outside Statoil. “Norway’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 is one of the best commitments by any country, but Norway can’t claim to be a climate leader back home while being an accessory to the climate crimes happening in Alberta.” 

Statoil could choose to truly become a climate leader at its AGM May 19. Greenpeace and WWF Norway have tabled a motion that Statoil withdraw from its controversial investments in the tar sands. Last year, a similar motion drew nearly three million votes in favour, and created a controversy that became a divisive issue in the national election. At last year’s AGM, several key investors gave Statoil a year to prove it could find a more sustainable way of developing its leases in Alberta, as it claimed it could. Statoil has offered lofty ambitions, but has not been able to demonstrate any concrete plans to do this.  

To support growing efforts in Europe to block tar sands oil, Greenpeace has teamed up with WWF Norway and the Indigenous Environmental Network to host a delegation of tar sands experts and First Nations representatives in Scandinavia. The delegates include prominent scientist Dr. David Schindler, former Chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation George Poitras and Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a Lubicon Cree and a Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner. For the past week, the group has been meeting with the Norwegian parliament and several pension funds and investors across Norway, Sweden and Denmark in the lead-up to the Statoil AGM in Stavanger, Norway, on Wednesday.  

“On one hand, we have a government in Norway that spends hundreds of millions of dollars on significant rainforest protection, while on the other hand contributing to the destruction of the pristine Boreal Forest in Canada, one of the most important carbon sinks in the world,” said Martin Norman, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner in Norway. “In the midst of a global climate crisis, it is insane to invest in a project that will literally push us past the tipping point of runaway climate change. Norway’s emission reductions will be meaningless unless we stop the largest industrial project on the planet. If the Norwegian government is serious about protecting forests and protecting the climate, it will vote in favour of our motion on the 19th and pull Statoil out of the tar sands.” 

For more information, please contact:  

Raina Delisle, Greenpeace media and public relations officer, 778-228-5404

Mike Hudema, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, 780-504-5601

Jessica Wilson, Greenpeace media and public relations officer, on temporary assignment in Norway, at +47 4782 3154