The Lofoten islands are a rare refuge of wilderness in the Norwegian sea, above the Arctic circle. They are considered a natural wonder and are in the process of certification as a Sustainable Destination.
However, oil prospecting led to estimates that between one and three billion barrels of oil could be drilled off the Archipelago, and oil companies insisted that gaining access to Lofoten is of key national importance.
Historically, the wealth and welfare of Norway has been based on oil. However, the country’s Labour party withdrew its support for drilling, keeping the seabed of Lofoten off limits. While oil industries and unions expressed their disappointment, the decision comes as no surprise, considering that the Norwegian public is increasingly concerned with climate change and is backing environmental protection initiatives.
At a time when countries are eagerly waiting for climate change to facilitate drilling for oil in the Arctic (Russia and the US are reportedly competing for extraction of oil reserves in their countries’ corresponding ‘portions’ of the Arctic), Norway’s stance comes as a brave and rational alternative.
In March, Norway’s oil fund decided to discontinue its investments on oil and gas exploration companies. The government demands emissions-free operations from oil companies, and recently announced a one-trillion dollar investment in renewable energy projects.