‘The People vs Arctic Oil’: Climate activists target Norway in human rights tribunal
Three Norwegian courts have already ruled in favor of the government
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Norwegian climate activists have called on the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to rule against Norway’s plans to increase oil drilling in the Arctic, the activists said on Tuesday, claiming that the he exploration of the country robs young people of their future.
The lawsuit, brought by six people between the ages of 20 and 27 as well as Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth, is part of an emerging branch of law around the world where plaintiffs go to court to advocate for reduced emissions that cause climate change.
In the Netherlands, a court recently ordered Shell to cut emissions in a lawsuit filed by citizens who claimed the Anglo-Dutch oil major violated their human rights.
“Environmentalists argue that by allowing more oil drilling amid a climate crisis, Norway is violating basic human rights,” the activists said in a statement announcing their appeal to the ECHR.
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The announcement came as Equinor, the majority government-controlled oil company, said on Tuesday it would step up investments in renewable energy while continuing to increase oil production over the next five years.
The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy declined to comment on the lawsuit.
However, three Norwegian courts have already ruled in favor of the government, including in a Supreme Court verdict last December, exhausting domestic legal options.
“We must act now to limit the irreversible damage to our climate and ecosystems to ensure the livelihoods of generations to come,” said Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen, 23, one of the activists who called on the ECHR to take up the Norwegian case.
Lasse Eriksen Bjoern, 24, an activist for indigenous Sami people in northern Norway, said climate change was already endangering a way of life.
“Sami culture is closely linked to the use of nature and fishing is essential… A threat to our oceans is a threat to our people,” he said.
The rules of the ECHR require that applicants be directly and personally affected by the alleged violations, while its judgments are binding on the countries concerned.
The court must now decide whether the case, presented by activists as “the people against Arctic Oil”, is admissible.
Norway, the largest oil and gas producer in Western Europe with a daily output of around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent, said last week it plans to continue current oil policies.
© Thomson Reuters 2021