Reindeer herders battle power line needed for Norway's climate goal

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JERGUL, Norway - It is minus 6 degrees Celsius in Arctic Norway and some 30 Indigenous Sami herders have gathered 1,500 reindeer in a corral, sorting who owns which animal after the herds mixed while grazing up on the Finnmark plateau.

It is also an opportunity to discuss their big worry: a planned 54 km (34 mile) power line to supply Western Europe's largest liquefied natural gas plant.

The line will be built on pastures the herders use in summer, in coastal areas where they say towns, cabins, roads, existing power lines and other infrastructure have already encroached on the land they use.

"We cannot afford to lose more summer pastures," said Nils Mathis Sara, whose herd graze between May and October in the area where the line is due to be built this summer.

"We have nothing else to give away," he said as he drove to the corral in Jergul, near the winter pasture on the plateau, some 1,700 km (1,000 miles) from the capital Oslo.

As the temperature rises from the current 6 C (21 degrees Fahrenheit), they make the preparations to move to the summer pasture, 250 km (150 miles) away near the city of Hammerfest.

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The power line will help Norway cut its CO2 emissions, with the government committing to cut the country's emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030.

With electrification, Hammerfest LNG would use renewable power from the grid - most of Norway's electricity production comes from hydropower - instead of gas to run its five turbines.

The Equinor plant is the second-largest single source of emissions in the country, generating some 850,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, or 2% of Norway's annual emissions.

It exports enough gas to cover the consumption of an estimated 6.5 million homes, mainly in Europe. The electrification would help prolong the production life of the field and export more gas to markets.

The conflict illustrates the difficult choices countries must make to cut greenhouse gas emissions and power future growth, often involving competing use for land.


In time, Hammerfest LNG is due to use power from onshore wind farms that authorities want to build to increase the power supply to Finnmark as a whole, and Hammerfest LNG in particular, the region's future biggest power user.

They are due to be built on reindeer summer pastures too.

"It is idiotic we...

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