Environmental activists are pushing a European court to rule that Norway drilling for oil in the Arctic breaches their and future generations’ human rights in the latest legal challenge to fossil fuels.
What is Happening?
- Norweigan courts have three times previously declared that the government had not broken the country’s constitution and its right to a healthy environment by opening up large parts of the Barents Sea, north of the Arctic Circle, to oil exploration for the first time.
- Now, six young activists and two environmental groups have filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), saying that the exploration breaches their right to life and privacy.
- The activists are emboldened by a series of recent rulings including a court in the Netherlands ordering Shell to increase its emissions cuts commitments, and Germany’s constitutional court demanding changes to the country’s climate laws.
- Norway is the biggest petroleum producer in western Europe, with its largest oil and gas fields in the North and Norweigan Seas. The activists are focused on the 2016 decision to open up new areas of the Barents Sea for exploration, the first new acreage Norway offered for two decades.
- The activists are arguing that Norway failed to consider climate change adequately in the 2016 court decision, as any oil fields in the new areas could continue beyond 2050.
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Therese Hugstmyr Woie, head of Young Friends of the Earth Norway, one of the organisations behind the lawsuit, says, “The Arctic is special because of its vulnerable ecosystems. The consequences of an accident, and normal oil drilling, are much bigger than other places.”
- The applicants include an activist from the indigenous Sami community afraid of how climate change will affect his “people’s way of life” and 22-year-old Mia Chamberlain, who says she had long suffered from “climate anxiety.”
- The European court, which requires applicants to be personally and directly affected, will decide if the case is admissible.
Featured image by: Flickr