“That boat outside services the oil rigs offshore,” Fredrik told us, as he led us up flights of narrow stairs in an old building in Stavanger harbour. The penthouse space he welcomed us into is home to the local chapter of Nature and Youth (Natur og Ungdom). As the leader of the Stavanger chapter Norway’s only environmental youth organization, he has the keys to the “office”. We marvel at the concept of an environmental youth organization to begin with, neither of us having experienced such a thing in either the US or UK. “Inside here we have our meetings, we plan protests, we organize training camps and we write for the media,” Fredrik, at seventeen, seems to have a better grasp on campaign strategy than I do.
“We don’t want to use civil disobedience, but we are morally convinced that this is the wrong thing for everyone.” Fredrik told us of the proposal to mine alongside two fjords in Norway (Førdefjordnen and Repparfjord), while dumping the tailings into the fjords. “We have 1200 people who have said that they are willing to disrupt the project.” We ask if he’ll join when his birthday comes around. “Yeah sure. Why not? We have so much to lose.”
Fredrik attends international school in Stavanger, where his leadership of Nature and Youth counts towards his International Baccalaureate. “They say I have to start playing a sport now, I might try rugby. But I’ll keep working much harder on campaigning.”
The loft where Nature and Youth gathers has a homey feel, filled with campaign posters, coffee mugs and comfy couches. I asked Fredrik if the group is friends with one another. “Of course, we are like a family. Yet very inclusive. Anyone is welcome to join.” It was a hot day, but he kept on refilling my coffee.
“My parents always encouraged independent thinking. I came to realize that climate change is the biggest problem there is.” I asked what keeps him working so hard. He looked a little puzzled, as if my question was asked backwards. “I gain self-worth from giving my time to others. I guess it’s good for my mental health.”