“We have been invaded”: Wind energy sacrifice zones in Åfjord Municipality and their implications for Norway
ABSTRACT. Following the “green” growth tradition, the construction of lower carbon energy (renewable energy) infrastructures, such as wind power, has gained prominence in Norway. This has led to indigenous Saami herders confronting pastureland dispossession, some citizens fearing the industrialization of nature, and municipal councils losing formal governance power in favor of national agencies and private-sector project developers—justified by the urgency of the climate crisis. The purpose of the paper is to explore how energy infrastructures aimed at decarbonization have led to social fragmentation and ecological degradation alongside claims of economic revitalization potential in Åfjord. The authors draw upon fieldwork conducted within Saepmie (or Sápmi), the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sámi, and investigate the Fosen Vind energy project in the Åfjord Municipality. They find that lower carbon energy infrastructures, such as “wind farms,” have been normalized as unavoidable, and damage to habitat and encroachment on Saami livelihoods are positioned as necessary sacrifices for the greater good of fighting the climate crisis. The authors conclude that avoiding the creation of green sacrifice zones in making low-carbon places requires a more transformative vision than the visions offered by techno-solutionism, such as degrowth.
Anne Karam, Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Shayan Shokrgozar, Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation, University of Bergen, Norway
Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift – Norwegian Journal of Geography – 05 Jul 2023
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