Greenpeace Norway v. Government of Norway
Side A: Nature and Youth Norway (Ngo)
Side B: Government of Norway represented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy (Government)
Core objectives: Whether Norway has violated the fundamental rights of Norwegian citizens through the adoption of the decision to license new blocks of Barents Sea for development of deep-sea oil and gas extraction and through the failure to take the necessary measure to address the risk of the climate crisis.
SummaryTwo environmental NGOs sought a declaratory judgment from the Oslo District Court that Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy violated the Norwegian constitution by issuing a block of oil and gas licenses for deep-sea extraction from sites in the Barents Sea. Their petition highlighted several key factual points:
-- the area made accessible by the licenses would be the northernmost yet developed, and would abut the ice zone—thus rigs and tankers would be exposed to unprecedented risks of damage and spills, and their operation would deliver emissions of black carbon to the highly sensitive arctic; and
-- the Norwegian government will incur costs to develop the sites, and will only recoup those costs if the oil and gas they produce commands and adequately high market price.
On December 22, 2020, the Supreme Court announced its decision rejecting the appeal and upholding the licenses for deep-sea extraction. Eleven of the 15 judge panel upheld the lower court's ruling. The Court reasoned that although the Norwegian constitution protects citizens from environmental and climate harms, the future emissions from exported oil are too uncertain to bar the granting of these petroleum exploration licenses. The Court's reading of the decision is available here.
The plaintiffs appealed to the European Court of Human Rights on June 15, 2021. They argue that the Norwegian government, in issuing the licenses for oil and gas exploration that will lead to emissions in 2035 and beyond, violated plaintiff's rights under Articles 2 (right to life) and 8 (right to privacy) of the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition, they argue that the Norwegian courts failed to adequately assess their claims and thus failed to provide plaintiffs access to an effective domestic remedy under Article 13.
On December 16, 2021, the Court characterized the case as a potential “impact case” and communicated it to the Norwegian State. On January 10, 2022, the Court published a list of questions to the parties and has given the Norwegian Government until 13 April, 2022 to respond to the allegations of the environmental groups that new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic breaches fundamental freedoms.
- European Court questions to the parties
- Supreme Court Judgment (English) (English)
- Application to ECHR (English)
- Official translation of 22.1.20 judgment (English)
- judgment (Norwegian)
- Unofficial translation of reply (English)
- Unofficial translation of appeal (English)
- Unofficial English translation of the 4.1.18 judgment (English)
- judgment (Norwegian)
- petition (English)