Norway: Court dismisses climate lawsuit against the Gvt. regarding Arctic oil drilling licenses

On 4 January 2018, an Oslo court dismissed environmental NGO's climate change lawsuit against the Norwegian government regarding Arctic oil drilling licences. Greenpeace Nordic, Nature and Youth, and the Grandparents Climate Campaigns argued that a 2015 oil licensing round allowing drilling in the Barents Sea violates the Norwegian constitution and the Paris Agreement.

The court ordered the environmental groups to pay $71,700 (580,000 Norwegian crowns) to cover the state’s legal costs.

Greenpeace said the lawsuit had already cost almost 3 million crowns in legal fees, and said it would decide whether to appeal within the next two weeks.

The environmental NGOs welcomed the court's recognition of the right to a healthy environment in the Norwegian Constitution, and hoped this case could prompt other climate change litigation around the world. 

More information about the case here.

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Article
5 February 2018

Greenpeace appeals Norway Arctic oil drilling case

Author: Megan Darby, Climate Home News

Campaigners will take their battle to block Arctic oil drilling to Norway’s supreme court, they announced on Monday.

They intend to appeal Oslo district court’s ruling last month that the Norwegian government may continue to award exploration licences for the Barents Sea.

If the court accepts the case, it will test whether fossil fuel exporters can be held accountable for the climate impact of burning their product overseas.

...Along with Nature and Youth, an affiliate of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace is arguing that expanding oil and gas production violates Norwegians’ constitutional right to a healthy environment.

The district judges acknowledged that constitutional right, but accepted the state’s defence that adequate environmental protections were in place. 

...If Norway’s supreme court will not accept the case directly, the campaigners will seek a hearing at the appeals court. They argue that the urgency of the issue warrants fast-tracking the process.

 

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Article
4 January 2018

Norway's government wins Arctic oil lawsuit, greens lose

Author: Alister Doyle and Terje Solsvik, Reuters

 An Oslo court approved Norway’s plans for more oil exploration in the Arctic on Thursday, dismissing a lawsuit by environmentalists who had said it violated people’s right to a healthy environment.

The case, brought by Greenpeace and the Nature and Youth Group, had argued that a 2015 oil licensing round in the Arctic that gave awards to Statoil, Chevron and others violated Norway’s constitution.

...The court ordered the environmental groups to pay the state’s legal costs of 580,000 Norwegian crowns ($71,700). Greenpeace said it would decide whether to appeal within the next two weeks.

 ...Greenpeace Norway...said the lawsuit had already cost Greenpeace almost 3 million crowns in legal fees. [Greenpeace said] the case had spurred debate about the risks of Arctic drilling and expressed hopes that it could inspire other lawsuits around the world. 

...[T]he court dismissed the environmentalists’ arguments that Norway should be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas exported to other nations, rather than just from exploration and drilling off Norway. The court also said the risks of Arctic drilling were limited.

During the hearing in late 2017, the government said it was inappropriate to invoke the constitution rather than focus on taxes and regulations to control greenhouse gases.

[Also refers to Lukoil, ConocoPhillips, Lundin, Aker BP, OMV, Centrica, Idemitsu]

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Article
4 January 2018

Decision made in case against Arctic Oil in Norway: Right to a healthy environment acknowledged

Author: Greenpeace International

...The Court found the Norwegian government not responsible for breaching the Constitution. However, the Court found that the right to a healthy environment is protected by the Constitution and the Government must uphold those rights.

...Greenpeace Norway.. said:"While it's good news that the judgment acknowledges the Environmental Article in the Norwegian Constitution, it's very disappointing that it neglects Norway’s responsibility for damaging the planet’s climate... This decision should serve to shape the playbook which is being used everywhere by people taking their governments’ to court to protect their basic human right to a healthy environment."

...Nature and Youth said: “We have shown that the Norwegian Constitution gives future generations the right to a safe and healthy environment."

...More than half a million people have submitted their names supporting the court case against Arctic oil drilling, and have asked the Norwegian government to withdraw the new oil licenses in the Arctic.

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Article
4 January 2018

Norway Beats Back Lawsuit Seeking to Curb Arctic Oil Drilling

Author: Mikael Holter, Bloomberg

The government acted lawfully in awarding exploration licenses in the Arctic Barents Sea to companies such as Statoil ASA and Chevron Corp. in 2016, Oslo District Court said in a ruling... 

...The result “was as expected, in the sense that our view has been that there have been good processes with regards to the 23rd licensing round, in line with the legislation,” Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Terje Soviknes said in an interview Thursday.

...“Some issues that the environmental organizations have raised fall outside what was tried by the court,” according to the ruling. “Whether Norway is doing enough for the environment and climate, and if it was sensible to open fields so far north and east” are questions “better assessed through political processes,” the court said.

... Analysts said the suit was a long-shot, but that it could be a stepping stone to further legal challenges, which Greenpeace cited as one objective.

...The courtroom battle unfolded against a backdrop of growing skepticism toward the oil industry and, especially, its Arctic exploration...The country’s $1 trillion wealth fund, built from its offshore riches, last year proposed dumping oil and gas stocks to limit risks.Yet at the same time, Norway has pushed for more exploration in the Barents Sea, which is thought to hold half of the country’s undiscovered resources. 

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