Six climate activists and two environmental NGOs have taken Norway to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arguing that the Nordic country’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic are damaging the future of young people.
The activists, Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth want the court to rule that the 2016 Oslo decision to grant 10 licenses for oil exploration in the Barents Sea violated article 112 of the Norwegian constitution, which guarantees the right to a healthy environment.
“Environmentalists argue that by allowing new oil drilling amid a climate crisis, Norway violates fundamental human rights,” the activists said in a statement announcing their appeal to the ECHR.
The case follows a recent decision by a Dutch court ordering Royal Dutch Shell to reduce its global carbon emissions by 45% from 2019 levels by the end of 2030 in a landmark case brought by Friends of the Earth and 17,000 co-plaintiffs.
Norway, Europe’s second largest oil and gas producer, produces around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. It said last week that while it was investing in hydrogen and offshore wind for its transition to green energy, it would continue to extract oil and gas until at least 2050 and possibly beyond.
The activists’ arguments have been rejected by three successive Norwegian courts, culminating in a ruling by the country’s supreme court that the granting of oil permits was not contrary to the European human rights convention because it did not represent “a real and immediate risk “. to life and physical integrity.
Green Peace said in a statement activists deemed the ruling flawed because it “disregarded the importance of their constitutional environmental rights and did not take into account an accurate assessment of the consequences of climate change for generations to come.”
The European Court of Human Rights, which will now consider whether the activists’ appeal, dubbed “the people against Arctic oil,” is admissible, requires that the cases it hears affect applicants “directly and personally.” Its rulings are binding on the countries involved.
“For those of us who live close to nature, the effects of climate change are already dramatic,” said Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen, one of the activists, who is between 20 and 27 years old. “We have to take action now to limit irreversible damage to our climate and ecosystems to guarantee the livelihoods of future generations.”
Lasse Eriksen Bjoern, another of the activists, from the indigenous Sami people of northern Norway, said that the exploration licenses were “a violation of articles 2 and 8 of the European convention on human rights, giving me the right to be protected against decisions that endanger my life and well-being ”.
The Sami culture was “closely related to the use of nature, and fishing is essential,” he said, adding: “A threat to our oceans is a threat to our people.”
Mia Chamberlain, a third candidate, said the climate crisis and government inaction “deprive me of faith in the future” and lead to depression. “Our request to the ECHR is for me a manifestation of action and hope in the face of this crisis.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism