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Norway’s Supreme Court Rejects Green Groups’ Challenge To Arctic Oil Drilling

The Norwegian Supreme Court voted 11-4 on Tuesday to reject a lawsuit from environmental groups that had sued Norway for opening up acreage in the Arctic to oil drilling five years ago.

In 2016, environmentalist organizations, including the Norwegian chapter of Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth), took the Norwegian government to court over the awarding of oil drilling licenses in the Arctic, arguing that the 2015 licenses should be withdrawn as they violate Norway’s constitution and the country’s pledge to fulfill the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.

In early 2018, a court in Oslo ruled in favor of the government, which prompted Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom to appeal two lower-court verdicts to the Norwegian Supreme Court.

The lawsuit was dubbed by Greenpeace as The People vs. Arctic Oil, and the environmental groups were hoping that a verdict in their favor on several oil licenses awarded five years ago could set a precedent for more court actions to stop oil and gas drilling offshore Norway and especially in the Barents Sea in the Arctic.

“Opening up the Arctic for oil drilling in the time of climate emergency is unacceptable, and the Norwegian government must be held accountable. We hope and believe that the Supreme Court will acknowledge the Norwegian State’s substantial impact on the climate crisis and judge the Arctic oil licenses invalid,” Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway, said last month.

After the Supreme Court rejected the case today, Greenpeace Norway said that the ruling “shows zero understanding of the seriousness of the climate crisis.”

“We are very disappointed with today’s ruling. Most of the justices on the Supreme Court ignore the rights of future generations and choose the easy way to follow Norway’s oil policy,” said Silje Ask Lundberg, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway.

Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tina Bru, commented: “This is an important and thorough verdict, and we are very pleased that the state’s view has won.”

Last month, the ministry opened more blocks in the Arctic to oil exploration in the 25th licensing round, with the application deadline set for February 23, 2021.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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