The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has characterised the Arctic oil case as a potential “impact case”, and has therefore requested that the Norwegian Government responds to the People vs. Arctic Oil application.
Six young climate activists, along with organisations Young Friends of the Earth Norway and Greenpeace Nordic, filed this application with the Court in June 2021. The climate activists argue that, in continuing to hand out new oil drilling licenses in the Arctic, the Norwegian state violates their fundamental human rights by enabling activity that will increase greenhouse gas emissions precisely when urgent worldwide decarbonisation is essential to protect their lives and livelihoods.
“The Court’s request to the Norwegian Government is a significant development, as just one out of ten cases reach this point. It is of great importance to have these questions deliberated on a European level, after the lacklustre treatment of the human rights issues from the Norwegian Supreme Court. A judgement from ECtHR would be important not just for Norway, but also for the pan-European application of the European Convention on Human Rights in climate cases,” said Cathrine Hambro, the lawyer representing the applicants in the case.
The ECtHR considers that this application may become an “impact case”, which indicates that the case raises important questions “capable of having an impact on the effectiveness of the European Convention system”, or has “major implications for domestic legal systems or for the European system”.
“We are extremely happy that the Court recognises the profound significance of this case, for us and for future generations. Yet while we wait for our case to be heard, the Norwegian Government is planning to continue oil expansion in the Arctic. We are in the middle of a climate crisis. It’s, therefore, more urgent than ever that the Court rules that Norwegian oil drilling violates basic human rights,” said Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen, one of the activists.
The Court requests an answer from the Norwegian Government by 13 April 2022.
Aud Hegli Nordø
Communications Manager of Greenpeace Norway