World’s eyes on Norway as historic climate trial begins

Press release - 13 November, 2017
Oslo, Norway 13 November 2017 – Tomorrow, environmental organisations Greenpeace Nordic and Nature and Youth take on the Norwegian government in court for opening up new areas in the Arctic to oil drilling. They are arguing that drilling for oil violates the Paris Agreement as well as the Norwegian constitution. Winning the case could set a precedent for future climate cases around the world.

Norway’s Grandparents Climate Campaign has also joined the case, as intervenors against the government and in support of the environmental groups.

Truls Gulowsen, Head of Greenpeace Norway said:

“This is a big day for all of us fighting climate change and greedy governments around the world. By allowing new oil drilling in the Arctic the Norwegian government puts homes, health and families everywhere at risk, and should be held accountable. It is clear to us that this new search for oil is in violation of the Paris Agreement and the Norwegian Constitution, and we look forward to raising these arguments in court.”

In the trial, set for 14-23 November, the plaintiffs will argue that the Norwegian government has violated the right to a healthy and safe environment for future generations granted by the Norwegian Constitution. This will be the first time this right is used in court. Around the world some 90 countries have a Constitutionally protected right to a healthy environment, and this lawsuit can have a ripple effect helping guide other jurisdictions on how to interpret these rights in their legal systems, and inspiring more people to hold their governments to account.

Ingrid Skjoldvær, Head of Nature and Youth, added:

“The Norwegian government, like every government, has an obligation to protect people's right to a healthy environment. It is us in the younger generation, and our children, who will feel the worst effects of this oil being burned. This court case is giving us a critical opportunity to protect our futures and, we hope, providing a valuable tool for others to do the same.”

At the same time as the climate trial starts in Norway, Fiji is hosting the United Nations climate change conference COP 23 in Bonn, and attending the first day of the trial in Oslo are two young Pacific Islanders representatives from Fiji.

Alisi Nacewa, Pacific Island Represent activist said:

"We are here in Norway because our home is on the frontline of climate change. Our way of life is being impacted by extreme weather and rising sea levels right now. There is no way the continuation of oil and gas extraction, can deliver a world below 1.5 degrees. No way. No matter how politicians try to spin it. The Norwegian government has signed the Paris Agreement but they continue to drill for oil and supply the world with more fossil fuels. The two are in complete contradiction. It’s time to hold countries accountable for breaking their Paris commitments."

The Norwegian government will defend their decision to, for the first time in 20 years, open up a new oil drilling area in the Barents Sea, allowing 13 oil companies to start new exploration campaigns in the Arctic. Norwegian state-owned Statoil has already begun their drilling operations in the Arctic this summer.

The 13 oil companies that have new license blocks in the Barents Sea are: Statoil (Norway), Capricorn, Tullow and Centrica (UK), Chevron and ConocoPhillips (USA), DEA (Germany), Aker BP (Norway), Idemitsu (Japan), Lukoil (Russia), Lundin Petroleum (Sweden), OMV (Austria), PGNiG (Norway/Poland).

ENDS

Notes:

Media briefings and background on the climate lawsuit: http://act.gp/2jkhjix

Legal writ submitted to Oslo District Court: http://act.gp/2hc0EJQ

Nature and Youth is a youth organisation with branches all across Norway. They are connected to Young Friends of the Earth Europe, but it is the organisation in Norway that is a plaintiff in the case.

Photos and video clipreel: http://act.gp/2hviZp6

Contacts:

Truls Gulowsen, spokesperson, Greenpeace Norway,  +47 901 07 904,
Ingrid Skjoldvær spokesperson, Nature and Youth + 47 977 02 181,

Daniel Bengtsson, international communications coordination, Greenpeace Nordic, +46 703 300 95 10,

Poul Bonke Justesen, press officer Greenpeace Nordic, +45 2629 4938,

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