The Supreme Court in Norway is looking into the legal challenge of drilling for oil in the Arctic

The Supreme Court in Norway is looking into the legal challenge of drilling for oil in the Arctic

Across the Norwegian continental shelf there are about 89 oil fields, according to the government. Only two of them are in the Barents Sea, a lucrative area that the government has opened up increasingly for exploration in recent years, and estimates that it contains half of the undiscovered shelf resources, but the World Wildlife Fund has called it “one of the last largest in Europe, clean and untidy marine ecosystems.” Relatively troubled. “

While the lawsuit specifically relates to licenses approved for exploration in 2016, the government has continued to request such licenses – saying it will open more of the Barents Sea to oil and gas exploration in June.

“The Arctic is going through a crisis largely because of the current emissions,” said Jill Whitman, founder of Arctic Basecamp in Davos. “Any new drilling goes again to a science-based approach to climate change and is in stark contrast to Norway’s image as a leading green economy.”

Ully W. Pedersen, professor of environmental and energy law at Newcastle Law School, said the use of human rights in climate change litigation was a “recent phenomenon” that had pushed groups that felt out of other options for enforcement. in England. “It is the last resort.”

Esmeralda Colombo, a fellow at the Center for Climate and Energy Transitions at the University of Bergen, said the crux of the case will be how much discretion the courts will allow the government. In general, Norway’s Supreme Court leans in favor of environmental protection, she said, adding that the plaintiffs scored a small victory in the last ruling when judges ordered the government to share in paying the case’s costs.

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It will also raise questions such as whether Norway is responsible for the emissions burned from its exports – which are much larger than its domestic emissions.

United Nations special rapporteurs on human rights and the environment, among other environmental institutions, have provided data in support of the case. The groups funded crowdfunding to help cover the legal costs, raising a total of about $ 270,000 from donors including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who donated nearly $ 29,000 in prize money, according to Gut Etterjord, the student involved in the lawsuit.

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