YFoE Norway takes government to supreme court over arctic oil

5 February 2018

Today, Nature and Youth/Young FoE Norway and Greenpeace Norway are filing an appeal against the Norwegian Government for Arctic oil drilling. The appeal challenges the Oslo District Court decision, which said that Norwegian government "can not be held accountable for global emissions from Norwegian produced oil and gas abroad."

Due to the urgent need to slow runaway climate change caused by fossil fuel emissions from oil drilled in Norwegian waters, and the principles associated with the constitutional right to a healthy environment, the organisations have asked that the appeal goes directly to the Supreme Court of Norway.

"There is already enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to seriously damage our future. By opening up these pristine areas for oil exploration, Norway is effectively smuggling its emissions outside of its own borders and furthering climate change, which harms everyone, everywhere. 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 Court", said Gaute Eiterjord, leader of Nature and Youth/Young FoE Norway

The Supreme Court has a month to decide if it will allow the case, otherwise it will proceed via the Appeals Court. Only very few cases are permitted direct appeal to the Supreme Court.

In the People vs. Arctic oil climate lawsuit, the Norwegian State was sued for violating the Norwegian Constitution's environmental Article ยง 112 for opening up a vast new area for oil and gas drilling in the Norwegian Arctic. Today Greenpeace and Nature and Youth/Young FoE Norway have challenged the judgement and appealed to take the legal battle directly to the Supreme Court.

The January judgement by Oslo city court recognized the right to a healthy environment, but still failed to invalidate the Arctic oil licenses as a breach of these rights. This part of the ruling has been strongly criticized by legal academics. In the appeal, Greenpeace and Nature and Youth/Young FoE Norway claim that the judgement is based on improper evidence assessment and incorrect interpretation of the law.

"For us it is crystal clear that allowing new oil licenses violates the Constitution and our right to healthy environment. The Norwegian oil policy fails my generation and threatens our future, and I am proud to be able to take this issue even higher in the court system to seek climate justice", continued Gaute Eitejord.

Cathrine Hambro, one of the lawyers representing the environmental organisations in court, added, "Under the constitution, it doesn't matter where the oil is burned. As long as the consequences of the oil exploration effects Norwegian citizens environmental rights, it is clear from the Constitution that the State is responsible for that effect."

522,000 people from all over the world have added their names to the evidence that Greenpeace and Nature and Youth/Young FoE Norway have presented in the court. Norwegian group Grandparents Climate Campaign also support the appeal.

The continuation of the Norwegian climate lawsuit is internationally significant because it is part of a growing wave of increasingly successful climate cases all over the world, is one of the first to be heard in higher courts, and because it challenges the very fundamentals of the fossil fuel economy based on established environmental rights.