Norway court clears way for controversial Arctic drilling
Oslo District Court acquitted government against charges from 2 environmental groups
A court in Norway said Thursday that the government can hand out oil drilling licences in the Arctic, dealing a blow to two environmental groups that had filed a lawsuit against further drilling in the Barents Sea.
The Oslo District Court acquitted the government against charges from Nature and Youth and Greenpeace Nordic that drilling for oil and gas in Arctic waters would violate with the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Norwegian constitution.
The court cited the constitution, saying "natural resources shall be managed on the basis of long-term considerations, which will safeguard this right for future generations as well."
Activists decried the decision.
"Climate change is global. And climate scientists are freaking out. The Norwegian oil policy is letting down my generation and threatens my future," said Ingrid Skjoldvaer, head of Nature and Youth.
The groups had sued Norway's Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in an attempt to invalidate the latest round of 10 production licences in the Barents Sea on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.
The oil ministry had said the licensing round was in compliance with the constitution and noted that it was backed by a large majority in Norway's parliament.
The government said following the court ruling that it now "had a sound basis for its decision to award the production licences."
The court also said the groups should pay legal expenses worth 580,000 kroner (about $118,000 Cdn).
Greenpeace spokesman Truls Gulowsen said the group is considering whether to appeal.