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Norwegian Supreme Court clears way for more Arctic drilling

Frode Pleym, the head of Greenpeace Norway, also said in a statement that it was “frightening and absurd” that the right to a clean environment cannot be used to stop harming Norway’s environment. “The majority in the Supreme Court has totally failed to show its independence from the state administration and ignore the fact that researchers say the climate can no longer tolerate oil,” Mr. Pleym.

The move was a reason for the Norwegian oil industry to celebrate, said Hans Petter Graver, professor of law at the University of Oslo.

The decision, he said, rejected “the possibility of using specific cases as an instrument to attack Norwegian climate policy”. The court ruled that “the effects of global warming are only relevant to the extent that they affect Norway,” he added, excluding the effects of oil exports from any consideration.

“This means that Norway can continue to build its wealth on oil and gas without being disrupted by the Norwegian courts,” he said. Mr Graver had previously predicted that a victory for environmental groups could force Norway to phase out activities like oil exploration, which is a cornerstone of its economy.

In total, between 2015 and May 2020, 36 rights-based lawsuits were brought against states for human rights violations related to climate change, according to the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

Jorn Oyrehagen Sunde, professor of public and international law at the University of Oslo, said that following the ruling, it would be difficult for groups to raise similar challenges as the Norwegian court had narrowed the scope of the constitutional rule protecting the environment and climate.

Environmental groups have no more options in the Norwegian legal system, Sunde said, adding that the obvious route would be to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, where young activists have already filed a similar complaint against 33 of the countries.

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