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Supreme Court in Norway to begin Oil Drilling Hearing

Norway: Top Court Starts Hearing on Arctic Offshore Exploration Blocks. Photo: A drilling rig in the Arctic


Supreme Court in Norway to begin Oil Drilling Hearing


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | NOVEMBER 4th 2020


The Norwegian supreme court had begun a hearing on Wednesday that could potentially lead to a total freezing of the country’s oil drilling industrial expansion in the coming years, depending on the outcome.

The lawsuit hearing is primarily concerning the legality of the practice of distributing offshore licensing for oil companies, specifically for the Arctic areas. It’s been filed by the environmental groups ‘Greenpeace Norway’, as well as ‘Nature and Youth’ – a group consisting of environmentalists under the age of 25.

Norway is known to be a fairly wealthy country, but most of its wealth comes specifically from its expansive oil industry which has grown massively over the years. This is despite having very well renowned green credentials. The lawsuit comes as a challenge to the country’s environmentally damaging industry.

“The Constitution says that everyone has a right to healthy environment, and we will not secure it if we continue to drill for more oil,” said the head of Greenpeace Norway, Frode Pleym. “We do hope and expect the supreme court to rule in (our) favour.”

“We want to open up a bigger debate on oil,” Pleym added. “Of course, we want to win. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s not a loss even if we were formally to lose. It’s raising the issue up the public and political agenda.”

It was only a few months ago when the first battle, held in lower courts and headed by the Nature and Youth group against the country’s oil industry was tragically met with defeat when the 2016 decision to grant ten Arctic oil drilling licences to firms had been dubbed legal.

“The decision was made after thorough professional, administrative and political processes, which were fully in line with Norwegian law and the constitution,” said Norwegian governmental representative, Attorney General Fredrik Sejersted.

This court hearing, commencing on November 4, is expected to be the last of the court battles for the health of the environment on the part on the Nature and Youth group.

The battle will determine whether oil drilling in the Arctic is a violation of the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, with over 550,000 backers having signed a petition that backs the environmentalists. Some famous backers have been found for the court case as well, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

“The Norwegian paradox is that its leadership in some aspects of addressing the global climate emergency is enabled by wealth generated by a large petroleum industry,” said another backer of the environmental groups, David Boyd, the United Nations' special rapporteur on the environment and human rights.

Thor, a member of the Nature and Youth group, had spent much of his early life helping to prepare for the earlier cases and is now considered something of an expert on marine and Arctic drilling. “It took six months before my parents realised that I wasn't actually studying,” he said. “The best students were expected to become oil engineers.”

“It is impossible not to know anyone who works in oil,” Emma Bugge Gjerdevik, the local leader for Nature and Youth, says of her hometown Stavanger – a once-fishing town that’s now turned its primary industry to oil work.  “The only sources of information you have when you are little are the school and your parents - who often work in the oil industry. No-one said anything about the consequences of oil.”

“Many young people say: 'I can't be part of Nature and Youth, because my parents work in oil',” Emma added. She first got involved in the fight when she had learned of climate change and the threat that it poses to her future. “I try to explain to people that we must start exploring other supply and energy alternatives as well.”


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2020