Transitioning from fossil fuels to clean and affordable energy is key to the bold climate action we need this decade and beyond. However, some renewable energy projects in the Arctic are perceived by local communities as a form of ‘green colonialism.’, stripping away their rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Expanding access to affordable and clean energy is key to improving people’s ways of living. Climate change and associated crises like air pollution are making clean energy sources such as water, wind and sun significantly more necessary. Today, while 2.8 billion people are still lacking access to clean fuels and technology for cooking – the vast majority of whom are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa – the global population’s access to the same fuels and technology has increased from 55 to 63 percent between 2008 and 2018 (World Bank, n.d.).
Transitioning from fossil fuels to clean and affordable energy is key to the bold climate action we need this decade and beyond. However, renewable energy projects, notably hydro- and wind-power, damage and fragment Sámi reindeer grazing lands and migration routes, and are often done without adequate application of rights like Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). In Norway, the Sámi have prosecuted Øyfjellet Wind, a company that is planning to develop one of the county’s biggest wind farms on Sámi land, as the wind turbines scare the reindeer and push them off their pastures (Saami Council, 2020). The Sámi call these developments of land and rights dispossession “green colonialism.” Communities in more isolated parts of the Arctic rarely have access to the latest technology or more environmentally friendly solutions due to remoteness, poverty and lack of infrastructure. In another example, in 2020, a study found that broadband in Nunavut was up to eight times slower than the average in Canada (Flynn, 2021).