Norway’s government back in court for climate lawsuit

Greenpeace Nordic and Nature and Youth in Norway are today again taking the Norwegian government to Oslo’s Court of Appeal for opening up new oil drilling in the Arctic. 

“Right now climate change is contributing to intensifying wildfires, droughts, hurricanes and heatwaves and causing deaths around the world. The Norwegian Government can no longer ignore the dangerous impact its exported oil is having on the climate. Climate change knows no borders. Oil is oil, no matter where it is burned, and the government needs to cancel all drilling for new oil in the Arctic. Not acting now violates the Paris Agreement and Norway’s own constitution, that is why we are back in court,” said Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway.

Norway is the 7th biggest exporter of climate-wrecking emissions on the planet, and the country is drilling more oil wells than ever before. [1] [2] Compared to 2018 Norway is forecasting a 16% upsurge with drilling 130 wells in 2019. Norway’s total exported greenhouse gas emissions are ten times bigger than the domestic emissions from its production.

“It’s deeply concerning to see the Norwegian government bury its head in the sand and failing its climate commitments while drilling for more of the oil that has caused the climate crisis. It is the government’s obligation to safeguard a safe and healthy environment. The young generation, in Norway and all over the world, is worried about the prospect of an unsafe future, if governments like the Norwegian can get away with harming the climate and people’s lives. Because of this people are taking climate actions in streets and in courtrooms around the world, and we are full of optimism when we are claiming climate justice in court,” said Gaute Eiterjord, head of Nature & Youth in Norway. 

The co-plaintiffs are backed by the interveners Grandparents Climate Campaign and Friends of the Earth Norway when their appeal of the historic climate lawsuit opens today. The coalition accuses the government’s granting of oil licenses of violating the Paris Agreement and the people’s fundamental right to a safe and healthy environment as required by the Norwegian constitution. 

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, has recently criticised the Norwegian government’s expansion of oil, and he is calling for an end to Norway’s search for new oil. With the filing of a report on Norway’s energy policies and the protection of human rights and the environment, David Boyd is stressing: 

“Norway should stop exploring for additional oil and gas reserves, stop expanding fossil fuel infrastructure, and harness Norwegian wealth and ingenuity to plan a just transition to a fossil-fuel free economy. Norway, as one of the world’s wealthiest nations and one of the world’s leading producers of oil and gas, must accept substantial responsibility for leading efforts in mitigation, adaptation, and addressing loss and damage.”

Read David Boyd’s full statement here.

Media briefing: here

Legal documents: here

It’s the first case to challenge the drilling for oil and gas based on the Paris Agreement, and it is the first time the rights contained in Norwegian Constitutional Article §112 is invoked in court.

The plaintiffs have filed the legal case against the Norwegian government for granting oil licenses to 13 companies in the 23rd licensing in the Barents Sea.

The oil companies are: Equinor (formerly Statoil, Norway), Capricorn, Tullow and Centrica (UK), Chevron and ConocoPhillips (USA), DEA (Germany), Aker BP (Norway), Idemitsu (Japan), Lukoil (Russia), Lundin Petroleum (Sweden), OMV (Austria), PGNiG (Norway/Poland). 

Since the lawsuit was filed, Chevron and Tullow Oil Norge have sold their share in the licenses. Centrica Resources and Bayerngaz Norge have merged into Spirit Energy.