Greenpeace Nordic and Natur og Ungdom (Young Friends of the Earth Norway) are taking the Norwegian state to court again. The new climate lawsuit in Norway is part of a larger movement to hold states and corporations accountable for the climate and nature crisis. In the absence of climate action from both states and corporations, more and more environmental organisations, communities impacted by climate change and individuals around the world have taken legal action, including to fight the fossil fuel industry. And it has been confirmed that climate litigation creates change. While the Norwegian delegation will try to portray Norway as a climate leader during this year’s fossil-fuelled COP28 in Dubai, the organisations will also face the state in court precisely because of a climate-hostile oil policy.

In short

On 29 June 2023, the environmental organisations Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom launched a new climate lawsuit against the Norwegian state. The organisations believe that the state has violated Norwegian law and the requirements of the Supreme Court by not assessing the climate impact of approving three new oil and gas fields in the North Sea and that the best interests of children have not been taken into account. The organisations assert that the development violates both Norway’s Constitution and international human rights law and must be stopped immediately. The environmental organisations have also filed for a temporary injunction for the three projects. In the meantime, the state has accelerated the start-up of one of them, the Breidablikk field.The organisations believe that development and further production must cease until the court has assessed the legal basis.

The hearing of the lawsuit will start in Oslo District Court at the end of November, with the first day of court on Tuesday, 28 November 2023.


The Supreme Court judgement in People vs Arctic oil 

In December 2020, the Supreme Court handed down its judgement in the first climate lawsuit involving Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom on the one hand, and the state represented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (MPE) on the other. A case which went through three rounds of court proceedings between 2017 and 2020. The judgement was not unanimous, with four judges finding that the oil licences in the Arctic should be invalidated on climate grounds, but the majority voted in favour of the Norwegian state. However, the court issued some important victories for the organisations. One of them was that they unanimously held that the state is obliged to assess the global climate effects of new oil fields as part of the impact assessment when the fields are under consideration by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. This confirmation by the court has given the organisations the opportunity to challenge the state in court once again, as such an assessment of consumption emissions has not been adequately made for any of the approved new oil projects since the Supreme Court judgement. 

It is important to mention that during a state visit to Norway, Dr. David Boyd, the esteemed United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, concluded in his report that Norway should prohibit “further exploration for additional fossil fuels, since not all existing reserves can be burned while still meeting the commitments of the Paris Agreement” and should reject “any other expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Following the first climate lawsuit, Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The Court is treating the complaint as a particularly significant so-called «impact case». More background here.

Inadequate and undemocratic processes

In the new case, which begins in Oslo District Court in November, the organisations claim that the assessments of the global climate impact of the three fields are either non-existent or highly inadequate, denying the rights of civil society and researchers to provide input well in advance of the decision, as required by law. Instead of assessing the climate impact of the fields in a public impact assessment, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy conducted an assessment behind closed doors, concluding that emissions from the Tyrving and Yggdrasil fields, which are expected to total more than seven times Norway’s current annual emissions, have no impact on the climate and environment. This is contrary to basic climate science. In addition, the Ministry has calculated a so-called net market effect for Yggdrasil and Tyrving. With no basis in scientific evidence, but rather the controversially unscientific Rystad report, the Ministry has concluded that the Yggdrasil oil field will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For Breidablikk, no assessment of combustion emissions was made at all, despite the fact that the approval was granted after the Supreme Court’s ruling in the first climate lawsuit.

As part of the follow-up of the Supreme Court’s judgement in the climate lawsuit, the MPE has asked the oil companies to conduct a so-called «qualitative stress testing of financial climate risk» when processing applications for PDOs. Greenpeace has requested access to these assessments but has been rejected on “competition” grounds. According to the Ministry, the Environmental Information Act did not provide any basis for giving Greenpeace access either. This made it obvious that the so-called «climate risk analysis» is neither about climate nor the risks to the environment.

The best interests of the child

Article 104 of the Norwegian Constitution and Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child require that the best interests of children be taken into account in matters that concern them. The environmental organisations point out that this must also apply to decisions on climate and oil management, and that the authorities are obliged to weigh the consequences of climate change against, for example, short-term corporate profits from oil extraction. As the consequences for children and young people have not been assessed for the three oil fields, and some of the fields will produce oil well into the 2050s, the environmental organisations assert that the approvals are also invalid on this ground.


Greenpeace and Nature and Youth have submitted seven witnesses. Four witnesses will testify about the controversial Rystad report and the state’s incorrect and inadequate forecasts regarding the market effects of the fields. Three witnesses will testify about the negative impact of the three fields on the climate, including in Norway, and how this affects children.

Witnesses to testify about the government’s forecasts of net global climate impacts:

  • Haakon Riekeles, senior economist at Vista Analyse
  • Bård Harstad, Professor at Stanford GSB and the University of Oslo
  • Taran Fæhn, researcher at Statistics Norway
  • Michael Lazarus, Senior Scientist and Centre Director, Stockholm Resilience Center US 

Witnesses to explain how the oil fields will affect the climate, nature and children:

  • Helge Drange, Professor of Oceanography at the Department of Geophysics at the University of Bergen
  • Dag Olav Hessen, Professor of Biology at the University of Oslo and head of research at the Center for Biogeochemistry in the Anthropocene (CBA)
  • Wim Thiery, Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, contributor to the 2019 IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and the Sixth Assessment Report in 2021 and author of the study «Intergenerational Inequities in Exposure to Climate Extremes»

Expectations and outcomes

Greenpeace and Nature and Youth are optimistic about the outcome of the lawsuit and believe that victory is within reach. A ruling in the organisations’ favour where the approvals of the three fields are found invalid would be a major victory for the environment and for current and future generations. It would provide transparency about the real consequences of new oil fields for the world’s climate, children and future children.

Practical info

  • Proceedings will take place from 28 November to 6 December in courtroom 227 (173 seats) in the Oslo District Court. There is a court recess on Monday 4 December.
  • An in-person media briefing will take place before the start of the session between 8.15-8.45(local time) on 28 November, where the press will have the opportunity to speak with Gina Gylver and Frode Pleym
  • The request for a temporary injunction and the main claim in the lawsuit will be processed simultaneously
  • The proceedings will be streamed. It is possible to take pictures and film before the court is in session, and during breaks, etc.
  • The case is being argued by attorney Jenny Sandvig, partner at Simonsen Vogt Wiig, on behalf of the environmental organisations and attorney Gøran Østerman Thengs at Regjeringsadvokaten on behalf of the MPE
  • The final written submission from both parties, as well as a detailed timetable, can be found here. Pictures and video from the hearing in Oslo District Court here (to be updated)
  • Legal documents from the hearing of the previous lawsuit in the Supreme Court here. Photos/video from the climate lawsuit here.


Oda Grønbekk, Communications Officer at Greenpeace Norway
[email protected] / Tel: +47 92 42 12 15

Juni Haugan Holden, Communications Officer at Greenpeace Norway
[email protected] / Tel: +47  97 48 48 14

Tuva Mjelde Refsum, 2nd Deputy Head of Natur og Ungdom
[email protected] / Tel: +47 90 25 88 65

Klimentina Radkova, Legal Advisor at Greenpeace Norway
[email protected] / Tel: +47 96 84 62 88

Frode Pleym, Head of Greenpeace Norway
[email protected] / Tel: +47 97 30 73 78

Gina Gylver, Head of Natur og Ungdom
[email protected] / Tel: +47 98 15 30 11