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The People versus Arctic Oil litigation, Norway

Norwegian youth and environmentalists sue the Norwegian government for granting licenses to drill for fossil fuels in the Arctic. They demand climate justice and their right to a healthy environment .


Greenpeace together with the Norwegian group Nature and Youth (Natur og Ungdom) have taken the Norwegian government to court over their decision to open up areas of the Arctic Ocean for oil exploration. They are basing their legal claims on Section 112 of the Norwegian constitution which gives the right to a healthy environment, as well as the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:The People versus Arctic Oil litigation, Norway
Location of conflict:Barents Sea
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

On the 18th May 2016, the Government of Norway resolved to offer 13 companies ten production licenses for oil and gas in the 23rd licensing round. The production licenses were awarded by Order in Council on the 10th June 2016 (Licensing Decision). For the first time in more than 20 years, Norway opened new acreage to the oil and gas industry in the Arctic Barents Sea. Ten days later, on the 20th June 2016, Norway became the first developed country to ratify the Paris Agreement, which enters into force on the 4th November 2016. The licensing round covers parts of the Barents Sea, and will open up petroleum production in more northerly and easterly areas than in the past. The licensing round thus establishes production in an area with very little existing infrastructure and partly in an area that has never before been explored. [9]

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Project area:40,000
Type of populationUnknown
Start of the conflict:01/10/2016
Company names or state enterprises:Statoil from Norway
Tullow Oil Plc from United Kingdom
Chevron Polska Energy Resources Sp. z o.o. from United States of America
Aker BioMarine from Norway
Capricorn from United Kingdom
Centrica from United Kingdom
ConocoPhillips Alaska from United States of America
DEA from Germany
Idemitsu from Japan
Lukoil from Russian Federation
Lundin Petroleum from Sweden
OMV from Austria
PGNIG from Poland
Statoil from Norway
Relevant government actors:The Government of Norway represented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy
International and Finance InstitutionsNorges Bank from Norway
Statens pensjonsfond from Norway
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Greenpeace -
Natur og Ungdom -
Norwegian Grandparents' Climate CAmpaign -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Oil spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Violations of human rights
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although an important and inspiring step for climate litigation and climate justice activists, the court did not rule against oil drilling in the Arctic.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Norway's Constitution of 1814 with Amendments through 2014
[click to view]

Paris Agreement
[click to view]

[1] Thirteen companies are offered ten production licences in the 23rd licensing round (Norwegian Petroleum Directorate)
[click to view]

[3] The People vs. Arctic Oil; “The Arctic is Ground Zero for Climate Change.” (Greenpeace)
[click to view]

[4] Norway oil: Environmentalists sue over oil exploration (BBC)
[click to view]

[5] This is The People vs. Arctic Oil (Greenpeace)
[click to view]

[6] We’re taking Arctic oil to Court (Greenpeace)
[click to view]

[7]THE WAVE IS ROLLING! (Greencaster)
[click to view]

[click to view]

[9] The People vs Arctic Oil: Historic climate trial ends (Greenpeace)
[click to view]

Decision made in case against Arctic Oil in Norway: Right to a healthy environment acknowledged (Greenpeace)
[click to view]

Norway must prepare for Arctic oil race with Russia (Reuters)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[2] The Sun and the Darkness – Unburnable Episode #2 (Podcast)
[click to view]

Other documents

Greenpeace Activists (Photo: Greenpeace) Greenpeace support the case, raising awareness in the Barents Sea during drilling season
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Alice Owen [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3207
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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