Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

In this Saturday, July 22, 2017 photo, Canadian Coast Guard Capt. Victor Gronmyr looks out over the ice covering the Victoria Strait as the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica traverses the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
David Goldman/AP
Environment

Norway Backs Off Plans to Drill Arctic for Billions of Barrels of Oil

Why Global Citizens Should Care
For humanity to avoid catastrophic climate change, most of the oil left in the world has to remain in the ground. The United Nations’ Global Goals urge countries to protect the environment and pursue a sustainable future. You can join us in taking action on this issue and more here.

Norway is one of the leading oil producing countries, and its vast fossil fuel development arm has helped create the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.

But now the Scandinavian country has signaled that it could be entering a new, sustainable era.

The country’s leading opposition party, the Labor Party, withdrew its support for drilling in the Arctic, which gives the government enough votes to protect the highly sensitive Lofoten Islands in Norway’s Arctic from extraction efforts, according to Bloomberg News.

Take Action: Protect Our Oceans! Prevent Ocean Plastic Pollution

The change of heart could prevent billions of barrels of oil from being developed, a move that environmentalists say is critical for preventing the worst consequences of climate change.

For the climate to remain within a manageable temperature range, most of the oil left in the world has to remain in the ground.

“[The decision is] very noble,” said youth climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter. “But since Norway continues to drill for oil everywhere else it doesn’t really mean that much. The fossil fuels must stay in the ground.”

The country’s oil and gas lobby was upset about the development, claiming that it jeopardizes the industry’s long-term stability, Bloomberg reports.

Read More: One of the World's Last Pristine Marine Environments Is in Danger

Companies in other countries could still drill in the Arctic, but Norway’s decision could spur an industry-wide shift toward sustainability.

The United States had been trying to spur drilling in the area, but a federal judge recently blocked the Trump administration’s efforts.

The United Nations, meanwhile, is working to broker a global agreement to protect the Arctic, arguing that the region’s remoteness would make it hard to contain an oil spill, sensitive wildlife would be harmed by extraction projects, and that it's the only way to achieve the goals set by the Paris climate agreement.