The Supreme Court's press release on the climate lawsuit

Case no. 20-51052SIV-HRET, civil case, appeal against judgment:

Parties: Nature and Youth Norway and Föreningen Greenpeace Norden v. The State represented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy

On 4–12 November 2020, the plenary of the Supreme Court will hear the so-called climate lawsuit between the above parties. The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature and the Grandparents Climate Campaign have declared third-party intervention in favour of Nature and Youth Norway and Föreningen Greenpeace Norden (the environmental groups)

The case concerns the validity of an administrative decision of 10 June 2016 to grant production licenses on the Norwegian continental shelf in the south and southeast part of the Barents Sea – "the 23rd Round". The environmental groups have asserted three different grounds for invalidity.

First, it is contended that the administrative decision is incompatible with Article 112 of the Constitution, as the environmental consequences must be considered so detrimental that the decision exceeds an absolute limit prescribed in Article 112. When considering this invalidity ground, the Supreme Court must decide on the enforceability of the right to a healthy environment under Article 112 as well as the substance to the rights and obligations under Article 112.

Second, the environmental groups contend that the decision violates the right to life in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 93 of the Constitution, and the right to respect for family life in Article 8 of the Convention and Article 102 of the Constitution. One of the main issues at hand is the application of Articles 2 and 8 of the Convention to climate emissions.

Third, the groups contend that the three production licenses granted in the southeast part of the Barents Sea are invalid due to procedural errors. The environmental groups have submitted that the research work has been inadequate, both in relation to the preliminary decision to open the area for production and the later decision to grant the production licenses.

The environmental groups' request that the decision be declared invalid in whole or in part did not prevail in the lower instances, see Oslo District Court's judgment 4 January 2018 and Borgarting Court of Appeal's judgment 12 January 2020.

The Supreme Court has received a total of six written submissions to highlight public interests in the case under section 15-8 of the Dispute Act, which will be included in the Supreme Court's basis for decision-making. These are statements from the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution, UN Special Rapporteurs for Human Rights and the Environment and for Human Rights and Hazardous Substances and Wastes, the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic of Yale Law School, Center for International Environmental Law, the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide and the Climate Realists.  

The hearing will be held by video link and be streamed by the press.  

Although there will be a remote hearing, counsel will be physically present in the Supreme Court Building. Due to infection control measures, seats will be limited. The litigant parties have priority, and the press will have access to the extent possible. More information in this regard can be found here.

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