“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 […] which will safeguard this right for future generations as well.”
(§112, The Norwegian Constitution)
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In October 2016, the Norwegian state was sued by Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom (Norwegian youth organization for the environment) for awarding new licenses for oil drilling in the Barents Sea. With The Grandparents’ Climate Action and the Nature Conservation Association as party helpers the lawsuit received broad support
The environmental organizations insisted that the allocations were in violation of the environmental section (Section 112 of the constitution) – which aims to ensure our and future generations’ right to a liveable environment.
Norway has signed the Paris Agreement, and is thus committed to working to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. The new production licenses are the first to be assigned in a new area on the Norwegian continental shelt in over 20 years, and will be contributing to exceeding the goal of keeping global heating below 1.5 degrees. Norway is already the world’s seventh largest exporter of CO2.
Nevertheless, the organizations lost the case against the state. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the granting of oil licenses in the Barents Sea in 2016 was not a violation of the environmental section. However, a minority of four judges thought that the full consequences of greenhouse gas emissions should have been investigated, including emissions from combustion abroad. Several law professors concluded in media that the ruling in practice means that it is impossible to use §112 in climate cases. The door is closed on climate cases in Norway. When the court abdicate, the question is left to the judgement of history. We do not know what the judgement will be. It can be strict. (Law Professor Hans Petter Graver)
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“This is politics, not law” (Fredrik Sejersted – Government attorney)