A landmark court case kicks off today, as a historic
people-powered lawsuit against the Norwegian government for granting new
licenses to drill for oil in the Arctic Barents Sea reaches the courts. The
plaintiffs, Natur og Ungdom/Young Friends of the Earth Norway and
Greenpeace Nordic, argue that the decision contravenes the Paris climate
agreement and violates the right to a safe and healthy environment for current
and future generations granted by the Norwegian Constitution.
Ingrid Skjoldvær, Head of Natur og
Ungdom/Young Friends of the Earth Norway, said: "The
Norwegian government, like every government, has an obligation to protect
people's right to a healthy environment. It is us in the younger generation,
and our children, who will feel the worst effects of this oil being burned.
This court case is giving us a critical opportunity to protect our futures and,
we hope, providing a valuable tool for others to do the same."
The new licenses, granted in in the summer of 2016,
were awarded to Statoil, Chevron, Lukoil and ten other oil companies, and are
located in highly sensitive areas of the Arctic; new areas with no existing
The plaintiffs argue that granting the licences cannot
be reconciled with what Norway committed to when it ratified the Paris
Agreement's goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 Cº.
This is the first court case that challenges new oil
and gas drilling based on the Paris Agreement. It is also the first time that
article 112 of the Norwegian Constitution will be tested in court, which could
set an international precedent.
Around the world some 90 countries have a
Constitutionally protected right to a healthy environment, and this lawsuit can
have a ripple effect helping guide other jurisdictions on how to interpret
these rights in their legal systems, and inspiring more people to hold their
governments to account.
It is our duty as citizens and as environmental organisations
to act when politicians are failing their commitments and responsibilities.
Drilling in Norway means the Global South
At the same time as the climate trial starts in
Norway, Fiji is hosting the COP23 United Nations climate change conference in
Bonn, and two young Pacific Islanders representatives from Fiji are attending
the first day of the trial in Oslo.
Alisi Nacewa, an activist representing the
Pacific Islands said: "We are here in Norway because our home
is on the frontline of climate change. Our way of life is being impacted by
extreme weather and rising sea levels right now. There is no way the
continuation of oil and gas extraction, can deliver a world below 1.5 degrees.
No way. No matter how politicians try to spin it. The Norwegian government has
signed the Paris Agreement but they continue to drill for oil and supply the
world with more fossil fuels. The two are in complete contradiction. It's time
to hold countries accountable for breaking their Paris commitments."
The court hearings in Oslo
From 14 to 23 November, Natur og Ungdom/Young Friends
of the Earth Norway will meet the Norwegian government in the Oslo District
Court. The Norwegian Grandparents Climate Campaign has
added their support to the co-plaintiffs. Lawyers will present evidence and
argue that the negative impacts on the Arctic and the global climate brought by
the licenses is a violation of the Constitutional right toa safe and healthy
It is crucial for the plaintiffs to make this lawsuit
as open as possible and accessible all over the world because it concerns a
matter of global importance. Greenpeace will be hosting daily live streamings
on Facebook and Instagram.
There will be daily updates on these Facebook pages: Save the Arctic and Natur og Ungdom - and here on
The Arctic and Natur og Ungdom.