Norwegian Supreme Court Hears Case on Arctic Oil Drilling

by Arun

Norway is notoriously famous for its clean environment and fresh air. As a matter of fact, a section of the Norwegian Constitution states that all citizens have a right to a healthy environment. However, the economy, which is built around the oil and gas industry, seems to be contradicting the very basis of the constitution. How can Norway support a healthy environment if more than half the country’s exports contribute to an unhealthy environment? 

This question has stood for a while in Norway, but it hasn’t been until recently when the case has actually been brought up to the Norwegian Supreme Court, in which environmental groups seek to invalidate licenses for new oil exploration in the Arctic. This case marks the first time a case related to climate change has been brought up to the Supreme Court bench – consisting of 15 voting judges – under the Constitution’s environmental regulations. If the environmental organizations were to win, it would cause Norway to forfeit a large part of their economy, which is largely dependent on activities such as oil exploration.

According to Andreas Randoy, a win of this magnitude would mean “the beginning of the end of the oil age” and a shift towards modern, renewable energy. Environmental groups argue that the soil exploration plans in the Arctic had not been completely researched prior to their approval in 2016. The Norwegian government, however, claims that their arctic drilling is justified as they compensate for the negative effects of drilling by promoting a greener economy and landscape in other areas, as well as maintaining other environmental regulations.

Still, the case appears to be gaining steam. In what is largely a crowdfunded campaign to cover the legal costs of this case, the public has raised about $270,000 USD from contributors like Greta Thunberg.

In what is sure to be an interesting case of the environment versus the economy, a shift towards renewable energy as a whole seems to be looming not only in Norway but in the world.