A major setback for climate change litigation

By Yves Faguy January 8, 20188 January 2018

 

An Oslo court ruled last week that Norway's government can allow further oil exploration in the Arctic. The lawsuit, brought by Greenpeace and the Nature and Youth Group argued that Norway’s decision to award new drilling licenses to oil companies in 2016, only weeks prior to ratifying the Paris Climate Agreement, was in violation of the country’s Constitution which includes a guarantee to a healthy environment.

Why it matters

The ruling is major defeat for environmental groups who saw the lawsuit as a test case for the “keep-it-in-the-ground movement” focused on ending the extraction of remaining fossil fuels in the world to tackle climate change.  There has been a growing international trend towards more litigation around climate change, but the courts are still reluctant to step in to judge the merit of government policies.  Bloomberg quotes the Oslo court ruling:

“Some issues that the environmental organizations have raised fall outside what was tried by the court,” according to the ruling. “Whether Norway is doing enough for the environment and climate, and if it was sensible to open fields so far north and east” are questions “better assessed through political processes,” the court said.

The court found that Norway is responsible only for “greenhouse gas emissions within its borders, not those causes by burning exported oil and gas.” Adding insult to injury, the Oslo court ordered the two environmental groups to pay the government’s legal costs. There is no word yet on whether they will appeal.

 

 

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