Norway Faces Lawsuit Over Barents Sea Drilling Permits
Greenpeace, Indigenous activists, youth groups, and climate pioneer Dr. James Hansen are taking Norway to court for its decision to authorize oil exploration that would make the Barents Sea the most northerly point where drilling has ever taken place.
The plaintiffs say the decision violates Norway’s constitution and threatens the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
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“Signing an international climate agreement while throwing open the door to Arctic oil drilling is a dangerous act of hypocrisy,” said Greenpeace Norway Director Truls Gulowsen. “By allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic, Norway risks undermining global efforts to address climate change.”
“We will argue in court that the Norwegian government has an obligation to keep its climate promises, and will invoke the people’s right to a healthy environment for ours and future generations,” added Ingrid Skjoldvær of Nature and Youth.
The alliance took action after Norway distributed drilling licences to 13 companies, including Statoil, Chevron, and Aker BP. That decision turned the country into a “climate rogue state,” Hansen told Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
“I will not mince words,” he wrote in a letter to Solberg. “Your government’s actions are utterly at odds with the scientific consensus that underpins the Paris agreement. Norway appears hell-bent on sabotaging the treaty before it has even come into effect.”
Norway is not all that green,” he told The Guardian. “It is burning 70% more fossil fuels per person than Sweden, and mining 20 times more fossil fuels than it needs for its own use. It is using that to create wealth, but it is going to have to decide: does it want to be a rogue state or does it want to obey the rule of law?”
Norway was one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement, Greenpeace noted in a post on EcoWatch. Its constitution states that “every person has the right to an environment that is conducive to health, and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. Natural resources shall be managed on the basis of comprehensive long-term considerations which will safeguard this right for future generations, as well. The authorities of the state shall take measures for the implementation of these principles.”