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A Norwegian court ruled on Thursday that Norway’s government had not violated the constitution in awarding drilling licenses in the Arctic, and dismissed a lawsuit brought by environmental groups that wanted the Artic oil drilling licenses withdrawn.
In November 2017, environmentalist organizations took the Norwegian government to court over the awarding of oil drilling licenses in the Arctic, arguing on the first day of hearings that the 2015 licenses should be withdrawn as they violate Norway’s constitution and the country’s pledge to fulfill the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.
On the last day of hearings on November 22, Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway said:
“The Norwegian Constitution gives the right to a healthy environment. Winning this case -- having new oil licenses in the Arctic ruled invalid -- would keep millions of oil barrels in the ground. During the hearing, I believe we have made it clear that opening up new oil fields will be in violation of both the Norwegian constitution and the Paris Agreement. We have also shown that Norway, in fact, risks losing billions by investing in these oil fields.”
According to analysts, the lawsuit was a longshot, but if the greens had won, it would have set a precedent and prompted more groups to sue governments for violating climate agreement targets.
“The environmental organisations’ argument that the plan violates the Constitution’s Article 112 has not succeeded,” an Oslo court ruled today. “The state, represented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, is exonerated.”
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“Whether Norway is doing enough for the environment and climate, and if it was sensible to open fields so far north and east” are issues “better assessed through political processes,” the court added.
The court also ordered Greenpeace Norway and its co-plaintiff, Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth), to pay the state’s legal costs of US$71,730 (580,000 Norwegian crowns).
Greenpeace Norway said that it would now review the verdict carefully and consider whether to appeal it and if it has the finances to do that, Gulowsen said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.