Norway’s Supreme Court docket Hears Rights Problem to Arctic Oil Drilling

According to the government, there are around 89 oil fields on the Norwegian continental shelf. Only two of them are in the Barents Sea, a lucrative area that the government has increasingly opened for exploration purposes in recent years. She estimates that it contains half of the shelf’s undiscovered resources, but the World Wildlife Fund has named it “one of the last great areas in Europe”. clean and relatively undisturbed marine ecosystems. “

While the lawsuit specifically concerns the licenses approved for exploration in 2016, the government has continued to apply for such licenses – it said it would open more of the Barents Sea to oil and gas exploration in June.

“The Arctic is in crisis mainly because of its emissions,” said Gail Whiteman, founder of the Arctic Basecamp in Davos. “Each new well is again a science-based approach to climate change and runs counter to Norway’s image as a leading green economy.”

The use of human rights in climate change-related litigation was a “recent phenomenon” pushed by groups who felt they had no other means to enforce action, said Ole W. Pedersen, professor of the environment – and energy law at Newcastle Law School in England. “It’s a last resort.”

The crux of the case would be how much discretion the courts would give the government, said Esmeralda Colombo, a staff member at the Center for Climate and Energy Transition at Bergen University. In general, the Norwegian Supreme Court has spoken out in favor of the environment, she said, adding that the plaintiffs in the final decision won a small victory when judges ordered the government to help pay the costs of the case.

It will also raise questions about whether Norway is responsible for the emissions from its exports – which are far higher than its domestic emissions.

The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights and the Environment have issued statements in support of the case, among other things. According to Gaute Eiterjord, a student involved in the lawsuit, groups crowdfunded to cover legal costs and raised a total of around $ 270,000 from donors, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who donated around $ 29,000 in prize money .

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