Citizen Action Monitor

Norwegian grandparents spearhead demand for Statoil to withdraw from Harper’s tar sands

Will Norwegian grandparents shame the Canadian Association of Retired People into action?

No 460 Posted by fw, April 19, 2012

“Grandparents cannot accept that our grandchildren shall inherit an unsustainable world, plagued by serious climate changes. Therefore, we implore Statoil to be the first to withdraw from the dirtiest of enterprises. These oil resources must remain in the ground, if we are to avoid catastrophic climate changes.” —Halfdan Wiik

“The organizations are appealing directly to Statoil’s board because the Norwegian government and the major parties in parliament have so far refused to instruct Statoil to withdraw from Canadian tar sands.  As the Norwegian state owns 67 % of Statoil shares, all Norwegian citizens are in fact shareholders of Statoil and ought to be heard”. –Norwegian Grandparents don’t give up!

Climate scientist James Hansen posted a copy of the grandparents’ letter here, and it is cross-posted below.


Open letter to the Board of Statoil ASA,
by chair Svein Rennemo,
Drammensveien 264
0283 Oslo

April 17th 2012

Grandparents Climate Campaign
Leader Halfdan Wiik, Øvre  Kyvik 94,  5414  Stord,

The Board of Statoil must withdraw the company from Canadian tar sands.

In 2007 Statoil bought the rights to extract oil from tar sands in the fragile boreal forest of Alberta, Canada. Statoil’s area is approximately the size of the Norwegian National Park of Jotunheimen. The devastating effects this extraction has on the indigenous communities, the environment and the climate, keep mounting.  Simultaneously, the national and international opposition to tar sands exploitation is growing, amongst experts, the civil society and general public.

Current climate science leaves no doubt that extraction of unconventional resources, such as tar sand and shale gas, is incompatible with the attempts to limit the global warming to 2 degrees. Thus Statoil’s ambitions of reducing their CO2 emissions with 40 % by 2050 from their tar sand plant will have no consequence.

We, the undersigned organizations and political parties, have long demanded that Statoil must terminate their tar sands project in Canada.  We have implored the government, being the major shareholder, to use their right to instruct Statoil to withdraw, and we have urged parliament to instruct the government to this end. So far to no avail.

Our proposals have been met with references to the government’s policies on ownership, where, apparently, the board of a state-owned company is responsible for making such decisions. Nevertheless, we believe that the exploitation of tar sands is a strategic question that should be decided by Statoil’s general assembly.

Therefore, in recognition of the substantial public responsibility that the board of Statoil has, we will strongly urge the board to withdraw the company from the tar sands production in Canada, for, among other reasons, the following:

1. Extraction of oil from tar sands has huge negative effects on the climate, the environment, as well as on the local First Nation communities.

2. Tar sands exploitation is not compatible with Statoil’s own guidelines for sustainable development and environment.

3.  Extraction of oil from Canadian tar sands and other unconventional oil resources is incompatible with the aim of keeping the increase of global temperature below 2 degrees.

4. As the Norwegian government is the major shareholder of the company, all Norwegian citizens are shareholders of Statoil. We therefore firmly believe that Statoil’s continued exploitation of tar sands is contradictory to the long-term interest of Norway and the shareholders.

Both at home and abroad Statoil has been recognized as a environmentally and security- conscious company. But Statoil’s unwavering engagement in the Canadian tar sands industry, along with its decision in 2011 to get involved in American shale oil – another dirty and unsustainable project, has damaged the company’s former sound reputation.

Highly questionable is also Statoil’s membership in the American so-called Consumer Energy Alliance, a lobby that is sponsored by industries with the aim of influencing USA’s climate policies in favour of the oil industry.

Statoil’s involvement in tar sands exploitation undermines Norway and Statoil’s credibility as a nation and a company that takes climate change, environmental protection and the rights of indigenous peoples seriously. Therefore we will urge the board of Statoil and the government as the major shareholder to engage in a constructive dialogue aiming to find the best solution for Statoil’s withdrawal from the tar sands of Canada and from similar non-sustainable unconventional energy sources.

At Statoil’s general assembly on May 15th, we expect that board members and representatives of the committee on health, environment, security and ethics issues, will be present and available for questions from shareholders regarding the above-mentioned matters.

We look forward to your reply to our letter.

With regards,

Halfdan Wiik, leader,  Grandparents Climate Campaign, Norway,

Concerned Scientists Norway, chair Beate Sjåfjell Greenpeace Norway, leader Truls Gulowsen WWF-Norway, secretary-general Nina Jensen

Attac Norway, leader Benedikte Pryneid Hansen

Changemaker Norway, leader Markus Nilsen Rotevatn

Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations, secretary-general Berit Hagen Agøy

Friends of the Earth Norway, leader Lars Haltbrekken

Green Living, secretary-general Tone Granaas

Green Youth, spokesperson Hallvard Surlien

Nature and Youth, leader Silje Lundberg

Norwegian Green Party, spokesperson Hanna Markussen

Norwegian network on climate and health, leader Lars Thore Fadnes

Norwegian Young Christian Democrats, leader Elisabeth Løland

Red Youth, leader Iver Astebøl

Sami Church Council, secretary-general Tore Johnsen

Spire – the Development Fund’s youth organization, leader Julia Dahr The Norwegian Christian Democratic Party, leader Knut Arild Hareide The Future in our hands – FIOH, leader Arild Hermstad

The Liberal Party of Norway, leader Trine Skei Grande

The Norwegian Climate Network, chair Camilla Moneta

The Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development (ForUM), secretary-general  Andrew Preston

The Red Party, leader Turid Thomassen

The Socialist Youth League of Norway, leader Olav Magnus Linge

The young liberals of Norway, leader Sveinung Rotevatn

Unio, Confederation of unions for professionals, leader Anders Folkestad

YWCA-YMCA  Global, head of international affairs, Fredrik Glad-Gjernes

Copy:  The government, by prime minister Jens Stoltenberg
The Parliament, by represented political parties

See relevant link to Stavanger Aftenblad’s commentary on feature article written by former chair of Statoil’s board, Inge Johansen, and former UN director, Svein Tveitdal,

MY COMMENT — Why hasn’t CARP mounted a similar campaign here? In checking the Campaign page on the website of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), this agency is missing in action when it comes to climate change. It’s time for Canada’s seniors to demand CARP to rise to the challenge set by the Norwegian Grandparents Climate Campaign. After all the tar sands are a stain on our nation.

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