Norwegian climate lawsuit accepted by Supreme Court

By agency reporter
April 23, 2020

The Norwegian Supreme Court will hear an appeal in a climate court case, also known as The People vs. Arctic Oil, which has already been through two lower level courts. Environmental organisations see it as a recognition of the importance of this case for Norway and the rest of the world.

“We look forward to a thorough examination as to whether the government breached the Constitution when they chose to grant new oil licenses in the Arctic even though they knew the world was in the midst of a climate crisis. We believe the Norwegian state must be held accountable and that the oil licenses must be judged invalid. A victory will be historic and have major consequences for the climate”, said Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway.

In 2016, Young Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, together with the Grandparents Climate Campaign and Friends of the Earth Norway, sued the Norwegian state for the opening of new oil drilling in the Barents Sea through the 23rd licensing round. The People vs. Arctic Oil case aims to protect the rights to a healthy environment by stopping this expansion of new oil exploration and production in the Arctic. More than half a million people have signed a petition agianst a new oil frontier in this vulnerable area. The lawsuit is based on the Norwegian Constitution, which says that the state shall protect the rights of future generations to a safe and healthy environment.

“Norway’s exported greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas are already ten times as high as its domestic emissions. The world’s rapidly declining carbon budget does not have room for more oil extraction”, said Therese Hugstmyr Woie, head of Young Friends of the Earth Norway.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has supported the work on the Norwegian lawsuit with a donation of 250,000 kroner through the Greta Thunberg Foundation. Thunberg was awarded the Fritt Ord Award, given annually in Norway to people or organisations who have advanced freedom of expression, together with Young Friends of the Earth Norway last year and announced that she would donate her share of the award money to the case. 

“Science is clear that fossil fuels have to stay in the ground. As a major oil producer and exporter, Norway needs to make the transition away from polluting fossil fuels, and show the way for other fossil-dependent economies. I am happy that this grant will go into the fight against new oil drilling and for a safe and healthy environment for future generations”, said Thunberg.

“The support from the Greta Thunberg Foundation is a great honor, and we will make sure the donation is put to good use supporting the upcoming Supreme Court case against oil drilling in the Arctic. The funds will be used to cover legal costs, and information campaigns and materials to make more people aware of what the case is about and what is at stake”, said Frode Pleym.

In January 2020, the Court of Appeals in Oslo ruled in favour of the State, but the judgement also contained important victories for the plaintiffs. The court ruled that the Constitution does grant a justiciable right to a healthy environment and that the scope of Norway’s responsibilities includes the environmental harm caused by the use of exported Norwegian oil in other countries.

* More information and the petition are here

* Greenpeace International https://www.greenpeace.org/international/

[Ekk/6]

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