In the case brought against the Norwegian Government by Greenpeace Norway for granting new oil licenses to drill in the Arctic, the Oslo District Court reached a decision yesterday afternoon, Norwegian time.
The legal action is part of a widespread Greenpeace campaign against state-owned Norwegian oil giant Statoil’s oil exploration in the Arctic and in New Zealand waters.
The Court found the Norwegian Government not responsible for breaching the Constitution, but that the right to a healthy environment is protected by the Constitution and the Government must uphold those rights. In reaction to the judgment, the head of Greenpeace Norway, Truls Gulowsen, said:
“While it’s good news that the judgment acknowledges the Environmental Article in the Norwegian Constitution, it’s very disappointing that it neglects Norway’s responsibility for damaging the planet’s climate.”
“We are disagreeing with the judgment, as it ignores the Paris agreement and a warming planet demanding action against climate change.”
In New Zealand, international oil companies such as Statoil, OMV, Anadarko and Petrobras have faced years of protest by Greenpeace, iwi and local communities as they attempted to find oil here.
Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner, Amanda Larsson was disappointed but undeterred by yesterday’s judgment, saying:
“This decision doesn’t change the fact that, if we’re to have a future, the oil industry must have no future.”
Larsson says the judgment will only strengthen an already-strong and growing people-powered resistance to fossil fuels.
“Across the world, ever more people are taking action to keep climate-polluting fossil fuels in the ground. They know that protecting health, food security, critical infrastructure and endangered wildlife from the ravages of climate change is more important than defending oil company profits,” she says.
“Here in New Zealand, our biggest councils have opposed new oil. Iwi up and down the country have said no to it. Hundreds of thousands of people have marched, signed petitions, and lobbied their local representatives to try and stop it.”
“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern couldn’t have a clearer mandate to end the search for new oil and gas,” she says.
A new petition to the Prime Minister has rapidly gained over 28,000 signatures.
The petition was launched as the world’s largest seismic surveying ship, the Amazon Warrior returned to New Zealand to search for oil off the Taranaki Coast. The ship is currently in New Zealand on behalf of OMV, an Austrian oil company that, like Statoil, has drilling operations in the Arctic.
The Amazon Warrior has been met with significant protest both locally and in Wellington. Recently, a national gathering of Māori leaders came to an historic agreement to oppose all seismic testing and oil exploration in the waters of Aotearoa. The Iwi Chairs Forum passed the resolution to seek amendments to the EEZ Act to give effect to this opposition.
New Zealand actor Lucy Lawless recently traveled to the Arctic to confront Statoil on board the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, as the company drilled for oil in one of the world’s last pristine natural habitats.