Environmental groups take Norway to Supreme Court over Arctic oil

Two environmental groups said on Monday they were trying to take the Norwegian state to the Supreme Court for granting oil licences in the Arctic.

Environmental groups take Norway to Supreme Court over Arctic oil
File photo: AFP

Greenpeace and Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth) say oil drilling licences granted to companies in 2016 should be cancelled because they violate Norway's constitution, which includes a right to a healthy environment.

They say emissions from oil activities and fossil fuels jeopardise the objectives of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit warming from climate change to less than 2 degrees Celsius, compared with pre-industrial temperatures.

However, the organisations have already suffered two legal setbacks in both an Oslo district court and an appeals court, which ruled that their concerns were hypothetical as there was no certainty fossil fuels would be discovered.

However, the appeals court judges said CO2 emissions from Norwegian oil should be taken as a whole — meaning not only emissions from the production but also from the use of oil and petrol even outside the country.

“Opening up the pristine areas in the Arctic for oil drilling in the time of climate emergency is not acceptable,” Greenpeace Norway head Frode Pleym said in a statement.

“The use of oil and gas produced in Norway and burned elsewhere contributes to 10 times the domestic emissions of Norway.”

As the largest producer of oil in Western Europe, Norway is struggling to break its dependence on hydrocarbons, which made the country rich and enabled it to amass a sovereign wealth fund of more than one trillion dollars.

“The world has already found more oil, coal and gas than we can burn if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change,” Therese Hugstmyr Woie, head of Natur og Ungdom, said in a statement.

“Of course Norway has a responsibility not to produce more oil than the climate can support.”

The case concerns 10 licences issued for exploration drilling in the Barents Sea.

The beneficiaries include the Norwegian Equinor (formerly Statoil), the Americans Chevron and ConocoPhillips and the Russian Lukoil.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether or not to hear the case in the coming months.

READ ALSO: Blow to Norwegian environmentalists as lawsuit over Arctic oil defeated

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Sweden to set world’s first consumption-based emissions target

Sweden political parties have unanimously backed the world's first consumption-based emissions target, with the country aiming to hit net zero by 2045.

Sweden to set world's first consumption-based emissions target

The committee responsible for setting Sweden’s environmental goals on Thursday presented its proposals for what goals Sweden should set for greenhouse has emissions linked to the country’s consumption. 

“No other country in the world has done what we have done,” Emma Nohrén, chair of the climate goals committee, said at a press conference announcing the goals. “There has been a pioneering sprit.” 

About 60 percent of the emissions caused by people living in Sweden are released in other countries producing goods to be consumed in Sweden, meaning Sweden’s production-based emissions goals, like those of other countries, arguably misrepresent Sweden’s impact.  

In a press statement, the government said that as well as the 2045 consumption emissions target, the committee has suggested setting targets for the climate impact of its exports, include emissions from flights and cargo ships in its long-term national climate goals, and aim to include emissions from internal flights in its target for domestic transport by 2030.  

The committee also proposes that emissions from goods and services ordered by the public sector should decline at a faster rate than those of the rest of the country. 

Amanda Palmstierna, an MP for the Green Party who sits on the committee, said it was positive that the new goals had the backing of all seven of Sweden’s parliamentary parties. 

“It’s important that all the parties are backing this proposal so that it can become implemented,” she said. “Significant action is required now. We have so little time, as we saw in the IPCC report which came out on Monday.”