The People vs Arctic Oil: Historic climate trial ends

Press release - 22 November, 2017
Oslo, Norway 22 November, 2017 – Today is the last day in court where three environmental organisations have taken on the Norwegian government for opening up new areas in the Arctic to oil drilling. The plaintiffs have been arguing that drilling for new oil violates the Norwegian Constitution and contravenes the Paris Agreement. Winning the case could set a precedent for future climate cases around the world. The verdict is expected in 4 to 12 weeks.

More than half a million people have submitted their names as evidence of the global opposition against Arctic oil drilling. They are asking the Norwegian government to withdraw the new oil licenses in the Arctic. In a crowdsourcing drive to contribute to legal costs, so far 2500 Norwegians have donated funds covering close to half of the legal costs for the plaintiffs.

Truls Gulowsen, Head of Greenpeace Norway said:

“The Norwegian Constitution gives the right to a healthy environment. Winning this case -- having new oil licenses in the Arctic ruled invalid -- would keep millions of oil barrels in the ground. During the hearing, I believe we have made it clear that opening up new oil fields will be in violation of both the Norwegian constitution and the Paris Agreement. We have also shown that Norway, in fact, risks losing billions by investing in these oil fields.”

During the trial, three environmental organisations: Greenpeace, Nature and Youth and Grandparents Climate Campaign, have argued that the Norwegian government has violated the right to a healthy and safe environment for future generations, as outlined in the Norwegian Constitution §112. This is the first time this right has been used in the court of law. Around the world, over 90 countries have a constitutionally protected right to a healthy environment, and the world is now waiting to see if the verdict can inspire more people to make their governments responsible to their citizens.

Ingrid Skjoldvær, Head of Nature and Youth, added:

"If we lose, the Norwegian state will continue to drill for oil in the Arctic. This will lead to more climate change and an uncertain future for young people today, and those who come after us. Our hope is that the court will both cancel the oil licenses awarded in the 23rd licensing round and ensure that the Norwegian government start to assess the climate change consequences of distributing new oil licenses."

During the first week of the climate trial in Oslo, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Oil Fund and the Norwegian Central bank (Norges Bank) asked the Government for permission to divest more than 35 billion USD from oil and gas to make the government’s wealth less vulnerable”.

The 13 oil companies that have new license blocks in the Barents Sea, and would be affected by the verdict, 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 --

Photos and video clipreels: 


Truls Gulowsen, spokesperson, Greenpeace Norway,  +47 901 07 904, 

Ingrid Skjoldvær spokesperson, Nature and Youth + 47 977 02 181, 

Steinar Høiback, spokesperson, Grandparents Climate Campaign, +47 911 74 848

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

Notes to Editor:

Media briefings and background on the climate lawsuit:

Legal writ submitted to Oslo District Court:
Nature and Youth is a youth organisation with branches across Norway. They are connected to Young Friends of the Earth Europe. Nature and Youth is a plaintiff in this case.