February 8th, 2018
Two environmental groups have launched an appeal against the court’s rejection of their landmark climate case to prevent Arctic oil and gas exploration.
Greenpeace Norway and Nature and Youth filed an appeal on the 5 February 2018, to the decision made by the Oslo District Court earlier this year. The groups argued that Norway’s oil and gas exploration in the Arctic violates citizens’ right to a clean environment.
The judge ruled that the Norwegian government does not have to withdraw new oil drilling permissions for the Arctic and is not accountable for climate change.
The NGOs have appealed directly to Norway’s Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, it will go to the Appeals Court instead.
Norwegian Climate Case
The Norwegian climate case started at the end of 2016 after the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy gave out new licences for oil drilling in the Arctic Sea.
Greenpeace and Nature and Youth filed a lawsuit to stop these licences, arguing that the licensing decision affects the environment in ways that “create a real risk of extreme negative impacts for the environment”.
They took the Government to court in November 2017 and received 522,000 signatures of support from people all over the world.
The judge’s decision was made in early January, acknowledging a constitutional right to a healthy environment. “We see this as an important step for stronger protection of the environment, that can serve as an inspiration for youth all around the world,” said the head of Nature and Youth, Ingrid Skjoldvær.
The judgement, however, denied the NGOs’ motion that the Government’s decision to grant further oil drilling licences threatens the peoples’ constitutional right and should be reversed.
The NGOs are now appealing that decision, arguing that the District Court did not assess the evidence correctly and are now hoping to force the Government to reverse Arctic Oil drilling permissions before the Supreme Court.
“When politicians put oil before people, they need to be held accountable. If we win, millions of barrels of oil could be kept in the ground, and this is why we are taking Arctic oil to the Supreme Court,” said Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway.
Ireland’s Upcoming Case
This is just one of many examples in recent years where NGOs have taken their Government to court, with the Irish State currently facing a climate case of its own.
The environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment (FiE) filed a lawsuit against Ireland in 2017 in an effort to force the Government to adapt better policies to tackle climate change.
“The World Health Organization has estimated that from 2030 to 2050 there will be an additional 250,000 deaths each year as a result of climate change. The government needs to act urgently and ambitiously to help avoid this needless suffering,” said FiE’s Director Tony Lowes.