Green groups, Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth are suing the Norwegian government to block oil drilling in the Arctic, on climate change grounds that drilling licenses awarded in the Barents Sea violate the Norwegian constitution and Paris Agreement.
Greenpeace and Norwegian Young Friends of the Earth recently launched the case with a live webcast with the argument that the Norwegian Government is violating its constitution, Paris climate deal and the rights of young people by permitting arctic oil drilling.
“It is a lawsuit about oil, the Arctic and our common climate,” said lawyer Cathrine Hambro. “In the lawsuit, we claim that oil licenses for drilling in the Barents Sea that have recently been awarded are illegal.”
The case hinges on article 112 of the Norwegian constitution, which was recently amended to guarantee citizens the right to a healthy environment.
It states: “Every person has the right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained.
“Natural resources shall be managed on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations which will safeguard this right for future generations as well.”
Norway has ratified the Paris Agreement, which aims to hold global temperature rise “well below 2C” from pre-industrial levels and aim for 1.5C; setting a new target to go carbon neutral by 2030. Yet, there has been no move to rein in oil and gas production, which accounts for more than a fifth of the country’s GDP.
Although the Paris Agreement does not clearly limit fossil fuel production, this might however be a deciding factor in court, because burning of coal, oil and gas are the biggest causes of global warming.
What will the verdict be? Should Norway stop looking for oil?