Bellona through the years

Publish date: July 19, 2013

A timeline of Bellona milestone's

The name

Bellona gets its name from the Roman war goddess with unlimited powers over nature, life and death, known to be strict but fair. She can be found all over the world, from a bust in Brussels to a statue in St. Petersburg.

Bellona Bellona

1986 – The beginning

About seven weeks after the Chernobyl disaster, on the 16th of June 1986, Bellona saw its daylight in an occupied house. Six young men started their own independent foundation to be more flexible and efficient in comparison to the rest of the established environmental movement.

Bellona introduced environmental crime [miljøkriminalitet] as a new concept in the Norwegian public debate and launched a report on environmental crime in Norwegian industry. The press conference became the official launch of the Bellona Foundation as well.

Two of the Bellona founders, Rune Haaland and Frederic Hauge Two of the Bellona founders, Rune Haaland and Frederic Hauge

1987 – Keep Our Food Clean

During the summer of 1987, Bellona and Young Friends of the Earth Norway organised the Keep Our Food Clean campaign. They sailed along the Norwegian coast to build partnerships, disseminate information and brought along divers and equipment to measure environmental status along the way. The campaign gave local politicians, leaders in the private sector, the media and Norwegians in general a brutal picture of how polluted the coast actually was. The expression “keep our food clean” remains in use.

Activists from Bellona and Young Friends of the Earth Norway occupied the office of environmental minister Sissil Rønbeck, demanding an end to the Titania-case. Titania had dumped mining waste directly into the sea where it destroyed large fish spawning areas.

1988 – Toxic waste everywhere

This year, Bellona revealed large amounts of unsecured toxic waste when protesting against the company Ifa Alna in Bergen. Bellona found as well that Buskerud Paper Factory had been falsifying their emissions declaration documents and had hidden illegal waste.

The Norwegian Federation for Enterprises held an environmental conference in Ålesund this year. Bellona rented a bus, filled it with journalists and revealed that the member company, Prolon, had stored away large amounts of toxic waste in rusty barrels along children’s way to school.

The minister of environmental protection, Rønbeck’s office was occupied again, as a protest against her not having done anything with the Titania-case. Later that year, Bellona blocked the grounds of Titania by chaining themselves together. After a cumbersome fight, Bellona finally won the Titania-case in 1990.

1989 – Bellona imports Norway’s first electric car

In collaboration with the popular pop group A-ha, Bellona bought Norway’s first electric car, a rebuilt FIAT. With this, a long fight started to work for electric mobility incentives: tax exemptions, exemption from tolls, free parking and the option to drive in bus lanes.

Bellona passed Oslo toll barriers without paying 17 times, often accompanied by celebrities and media. Bellona was fined every single time, refused to pay the fines, and rebought the car via forced auction, before the authorities understood that they were losing the battle.

20 years later, the incentives are in place and Norway has the world’s highest proportion of electric vehicles.

The band A-Ha with Frederic Hauge and their electric car The band A-Ha with Frederic Hauge and Bellona's first electric car. Credit: Bellona

1990 – Stopping nuclear weapon testing

The Soviet Union used the area around Novaya Zemlya, only 90km from Norway, to test nuclear weapons. Bellona decided to lay outside the waters of the island with M/S Genious as a human shield against further testing. The incident ended in arrest and relegations, however in aftermath only one single testing of Soviet nuclear weapons took place. The journey that Bellona undertook that year proved to be the beginning of steady work against the nuclear threat from the east.

1991 – Digging for shit

Hydro turned out to be responsible for several landfills with toxic waste, but had refused to do something about it. School kids had provided Bellona with information about the whereabouts of the toxic waste, hence Bellona decided to dig for the shit. Bellona found several barrels with toxic waste and while they were at it, decided to dump two of the barrels outside the main entrance of Hydro’s factory. As the police attempted to stop the Bellona activists, the school kids were shouting: “Clean this mess!”

Digging for waste at Kjeller Digging for waste at Kjeller

Bellona’s fight against Hydro had started several years earlier, in 1987, when Bellona sneaked through the fences at Hydro in Porsgrunn, as a result of receiving information of Hydro hiding away large amounts of quicksilver waste. In total 167 tonnes of quicksilver was found and Hydro had to spend half a billion NOK cleaning up its mess.

1992 – Disclosure of Russian nuclear waste

In 1992, Bellona disclosed the dumping of radioactive waste in the Barents Sea and Kara Sea. The same year Bellona visited the plant at Majak in Sibir, the world’s most radioactive area.

The results were presented at the UN’s first climate negotiations in Rio de Janeiro. The revelation of the nuclear waste created international attention on a topic that few knew a lot about. Ever since Bellona’s first participation in the climate negotiations in Rio, Bellona has worked with the international climate negotiations.

1993 – Resisting oil drilling

Bellona protested for the first time against oil drilling in the Barents Sea, by twice physically laying in the way for the Shell platform Ross Rig and taking the case to the authorities in order end Statoil’s explorative drilling in the area.

Resisting oil drilling from Bellona's sailship Kallinika Resisting oil drilling from Bellona's sailship Kallinika

1994 – The first office abroad

As a consequence of Bellona’s major activities in Russia, and due to the large nuclear challenges the country was facing, Bellona established a permanent representation in Murmansk with local staff in 1994.

Sometime later that year, Bellona’s EU office was opened in Brussels. In the beginning the office mostly worked on nuclear waste, however, later the office started to focus on renewable energy and carbon capture and storage technology.

The EU’s Commissioner for Environment, Ioannis Paleorkrassas, travelled along with Bellona to the Kola Peninsula to observe the environmental challenges. The commissioner was shocked to see how bad the conditions where, and promised that the EU would assist in cleaning up the mess. Shortly after the European Parliament strongly urged the European Commission to implement measures at Kola.

1995 – Bellona on the WEB

Bellona decided early on to create its own website, which extended its efforts in environmental journalism that the organisation already had been devoting a lot of time to since the launch of the Bellona Magazine in 1989. The webpages were launched in Norwegian, English and a year later in Russian. The Russian webpage remain the most read, as these pages are one of the few independent sources of information on climate and environment issues in Russia.

1996 – KGB arrests Bellona employee

On February 6, Bellona employee Aleksandr Nikitin was arrested by Russian intelligence accused of treason in the form of espionage. In the case of conviction, he would at best risk 10-15 years in prison, at worst death penalty. The arrest started a five year long process ending with the Russian president, Boris Jeltsin, announcing at a press conference in Oslo that “we drop all charges against Bellona” and promising that Nikitin would get a fair trial.

In 1996 Bellona’s US office in Washington was established as a direct result of the strategy developed in relation with the Nikitin-case.

1997 – Cleaning fossil power plants

On national television Frederic Hauge informs the public that carbon capture from gas power plants is a possibility. This statement got significant attention and changed the public debate, kicking off intense political and judicial work to get carbon included in the Pollution Control Act.

One of Bellona's protests One of Bellona's protests

1998 – Collaborating with the private sector

Bellona launched its private sector collaboration strategy, at the time named the B7 program. As of the first year, this strategy contained bilateral agreements with a total of 16 different Norwegian companies and organisations.

Through this collaboration strategy Bellona challenged the private sector to make use of environmentally friendly solutions and to establish frontrunner projects.

Bellona established its office in St. Petersburg as a result of the Nikitin-case and threat of facing a death penalty for his work at Bellona.

1999 – Green energy

In 1999, Bellona published the report “Green energy and heat – environmental energy solutions in the 21st century.”

Bellona was sick of the continued radioactive waste dumping in the Nitelva and Øyeren rivers at the Kjeller nuclear reactor, and thus decided to sabotage the waste pipe. Additionally, Bellona reported Oslo Airport for their large emissions of defrosting liquid resulting in a two million NOK fine. Bellona reported Tinfoss and Eramet after disclosing large quicksilver waste. Both companies chose later to apply new cleansing technologies that have saved the environment hundreds of kilos quicksilver annually.

2000 – Winning the Nikitin case

This year came to be the end of the five year fight for Bellona staff member Aleksandr Nikitin, meaning Bellona beat KGB – a deed an organisation had not done before or has ever done afterwards.             

Bellona received the Nordic Council Nature and Environment Prize.

bodytextimage_nikitincourt1.png Alexander Nikitin being led to a court hearing in 1995. Credit: Courtesty of Sergei Grachev/The St. Petersburg Times

2001 – Oil drilling refusal in Lofoten

Bellona handed in a complaint regarding Hydro’s allowance for explorative oil drilling outside the coast of Røst and Lofoten, which came to result in Hydro ending their activities. Bellona’s continued work over many years has ensured that the vulnerable areas outside Lofoten at present have still not been opened up for petroleum activities.

2002 – Ending the waste system

Launched two reports «Hydrogen – current status and possibilities» and «Waste – Ending the tossing system” and imported the Nordic’s first two hydrogen cars.

In 2001 and 2002 Bellona has been working intensely against the Snøhvit oil and gas exploration enlargement, as it represented a loophole for oil and gas extraction in the southern parts of the Barents Sea.

This year we gathered public and private actors in the energy sector in order to discuss green certificates, and agreed a common goal to stimulate investments in renewable energy.

2003 – Expanding work

Bellona published the reports «Sellafield» and « Norwegian Fishery’s Environmental Status.” Moreover, Bellona organised a hearing titled “the Road to the Hydrogen Society” in the European Parliament.

This year we established the Energy Forum with the objective to strive for environmental energy solutions in collaboration with industry.

During these years our work against oil drilling in the northern areas in Norway, contained delivering positions on hearings, complaints, lobbyism and protests.

2004 – Stop Sellafield

Bellona had very vocally criticised the nuclear plant in Sellafield in England. As a result of intense information work and with a solution oriented approach, Bellona managed to convince the managers of the plant to do something about the emissions. In 2004, Sellafield decided that the radioactive Technetium-99 emissions were to be cleansed and stored on land, and with that the controversial emissions into the sea ended.

Stop Sellafield protest at Trafalgar Square in London Stop Sellafield protest at Trafalgar Square in London

2006 – Promises of carbon capture at Mongstad

Prime Minister at that time, Jens Stoltenberg, frames the project as Norway’s “moon landing” despite being 15 years after Bellona had started talking about carbon catpure and eight years after Frederic Hauge presented the possibility of storing about 500 billion tonnes of CO2 in aquifers on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Naturally it was a huge victory for Bellona that the Norwegian government in 2006 decided to build the carbon capture test centre at Mongstad. However, the Mongstad project was postponed several times and the project’s real contribution to reducing emissions has been a disappointment.

According to Bellona’s President Frederic Hauge, the Mongstad case can be seen as a symbol that the road to hell is paved on good intentions, and even though the political will has been good at certain points, the ability to see things through has been totally lacking.

2007 – TIME Hero

TIME Magazine awarded Frederic Hauge “Hero of the Environment.”

Frederic Hauge was elected vice president for ZEP, a position he still holds. ZEP is the European Union’s advisory body on carbon capture and storage technology and policy.

2008 – How to combat climate change?

Bellona’s report «How to Combat Global Warming” was launched, showcasing how available and up and coming technological solutions could reduce greenhouse gas emissions with 85 percent by 2050 globally.

At the Climate Conference CC8, Bellona brought together Lord Nicholas Stern, Ricardo Lagos, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Göran Persson as well as Norwegian politicians and influential names from the private sector for an event organised in collaboration with Hafslund and Club de Madrid, the World Leadership Alliance.


The objectives of this and CC9 was to provide the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 with concreate policy suggestions, as it was foreseen that the world would agree on a new climate agreement.

One of the biggest victories for the work Bellona has done in the EU was when both the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament in December 2008 agreed on a financial mechanism to support carbon capture and storage. The proposal to earmark allowances in the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) originated from Bellona, the investment bank, Climate Change Capital and several other industry players.

2009 – 101 solutions

Several players in the environmental movement proposed the exhibition “A hundred places to see before they disappear” for the climate talks in Copenhagen. Bellona proposed the concept “101 solutions!” instead.  During the climate talks, thousands passed daily through Bellona’s exhibition venue. Inside the official negotiation area, Bellona hosted more than 45 workshops, which at the most visited ones more than 150 delegates were present.

101 Solutions at the Copenhagen climate talks 101 Solutions at the Copenhagen climate talks

2010 – Green certificates

In 1999 Bellona proposed for the first time a system based on green certificates to ensure stable and predictable conditions for renewable energy producers. The road towards such a system was cumbersome, as Norwegian politicians broke their promises several times. However, in December 2010, the system was finally decided on as Norway and Sweden agreed on establishing a common market for green certificates.

2011 – Another high level position in the EU

Frederic Hauge was appointed as member of a new expert group to advise the EU’s Commissioner for energy, Günther Oettinger, on how the EU best could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector by at least 85 per cent within 2050. The advice was taken into account as a part of the EU’s Energy Roadmap 2050

In January 2011, a historical deal on building a test centre for the Sahara Forest Project (SFP) was signed: 200 acers of the Jordanian desert were reserved for testing various technologies such as seawater greenhouses, consecrated solar energy and growing of algae, and how they can benefit from each other. In this project seawater, desert and solar energy is used to produce fresh water, food, electricity and fuel. Bellona is one out of three owners of SFP AS, and is currently working on further possibilities for the project in Jordan.

Frederic hauge drinking algae Frederic hauge drinking algae

2012 – Sahara Forest Project

At 2012’s climate talks in Qatar, a vision was now reality. At the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009, Bellona became the centre of attention when we claimed to have the solution on how to secure clean water, food and sustainable energy for an increasing world population. The Sahara Forest Project uses what this world has in abundance; desert, seawater, solar energy and CO2, to produce what is scarce; clean food, energy, freshwater and green employment opportunities. The opening of the Sahara Forest Project Pilot Facility in Qatar, became a central part of the programme of the climate talks.

Bellona had worked on the removal of the nuclear service ship Lepse and the nuclear waste to be stored safely for the last 20 years. It was therefore an important day for Bellona to see the ship become removed from the docks of Murmansk City whilst Bellona was sailing beside it.

Bellona launched the app My Climate Plan and won with that the second place in the World Bank’s global Apps for Climate competition.

2013 – Ocean Forest

Bellona and Leroy Seafood Group joined forces to form the company Ocean Forest to solve the environmental challenges that the aquaculture industry is facing. Today Ocean Forest is producing a variety of seaweeds and mussels that grow using the excess nutrients of the fish farms they surround. The seaweed and mussels can be used for food, feed, energy, in pharmaceuticals and to replace petroleum based products like plastics.

It was a day of happiness when Bellona managed to postpone the planned impact assessment of oil drilling in Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja for four years. Protection of the northern areas has been one of the cases that have been dearest to Bellona that last 20 years, and therefore Bellona is welcoming every partial victory. Nevertheless, Bellona is still continuing its intense work for permanent protection of the northern areas in Norway.

Bellona and Norway's fisheries minister cooking with seaweed Bellona and Norway's fisheries minister cooking with seaweed

2014 – Canada captures carbon

Canada opens the world’s first commercial full-scale carbon capture power plant – while Norway continues to falter in its promise to deliver this technology that can clan up its oil and gas emissions.

Bellona establishes an office in Kiev, Ukraine.

2015 – The world gets a climate deal

Bellona was present at the Paris negotiations and celebrated the agreement after two weeks of hosting a number of side-events showcasing climate solutions.

Bellona established the company eRoute71, which so far has built 70 electric vehicle charging stations at 20 different locations in Norway.

After many years of campaigning, the Norwegian Ship Owners agree to Bellona’s demands to stop shipbreaking in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, until they get the environmental and human risks under control.

2016 – Going carbon negative

Oslo may get one of the world’s first carbon negative emission points at EGE’s waste recovery facility at Klemetsrud. The Norwegian government are laying new carbon capture plans.