Leading climate scientist urges Norway to pull out of tar sands

NorwayDr. James Hansen, one of the world’s foremost climate scientists, has thrown his support behind a Greenpeace and WWF motion that calls on Statoil to withdraw from its contentious investments in the tar sands through an op-ed article and a full-page ad directed at the Prime Minister of Norway, placed in two Norwegian national newspapers.

The op-ed will run in the major Norwegian national daily Aftenposten¸ and the full-page ad, which will run in Dagsavisen, was co-signed by 26 environmental and social justice groups as well as several First Nations affected by tar sands projects. The timing coincides with the Greenpeace and WWF initiative to urge Statoil to withdraw from the tar sands.

“Norway stands today at a crossroads for the world,” reads the ad, which was translated into Norwegian. “Norway could lead the way down a path of destruction, initiating a continual unfolding of climate disasters over the course of this century, by developing the tar sands — and, incidentally, decimating Canada’s carbon-storing boreal forest, wasting massive quantities of fresh water and natural gas, and violating human rights of Canada’s Indigenous people. Or Norway could stand tall among nations, renouncing exploitation of the tar sands. Norway would then have the moral authority to badger and cajole the great economic powers, drawing world attention to the actions that are needed to preserve our planet with its remarkable life.”

The ad is a direct plea to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to use his power as leader of the Norwegian government, 67 per cent owner of Statoil, to vote in favour of the motion to pull Statoil out of the tar sands.

The timing of Dr. Hansen’s plea is particularly relevant, as he has recently been recognized in Norway with the prestigious Sophie Prize for his outstanding work on climate issues. The 2010 Sophie Prize was awarded to Dr. Hansen for “his clear communication of the threat posed by climate change and for his genuine commitment to future generations.”

Support for the motion has been growing across the Nordic countries over the past five weeks, with more and more investors voicing their concern over the vast environmental and social implications of tar sands extraction, and the departure that this investment represents from Statoil’s purported image of a responsible oil company.

Hansen’s op-ed is also a direct plea to the Prime Minister:

 “Prime Minister Stoltenberg, the world has reached a critical juncture in the climate debate,” writes Hansen. “We can either move into the production of the most damaging fossil fuel, or we can begin to address our destructive addiction. We desperately need leadership at this time. I am confident that you could provide that leadership. Please do not prove me wrong. I look forward to my visit to Norway in June. I hope that it can be a time to celebrate Norwegian leadership in responsible environmental policies.”



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