Frode Pleym, the head of Greenpeace Norway, also said in a statement it was “scary and absurd” that the right to a clean environment could not be used to stop harming Norway’s environment. “The majority in the Supreme Court has totally failed to show its independence from state administration and skips over the fact that researchers say that the climate can no longer tolerate oil,” Mr. Pleym said.
The ruling was cause for the Norwegian oil industry to celebrate, said Hans Petter Graver, a professor of law at the University of Oslo.
The decision, he said, rejected “the possibility of using specific cases as an instrument to attack the 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 consideration.
“This means that Norway can continue building its wealth on oil and gas undisturbed by Norwegian courts,” he said. Mr. Graver previously predicted that a victory for the environmental groups could force Norway to phase out activities like oil exploration, which is a cornerstone of its economy.
In all, between 2015 and May 2020, 36 rights-based lawsuits have been 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, a professor of public and international law at the University of Oslo, said that in the wake of the ruling, it would be difficult for groups to raise similar challenges because Norway’s court had narrowed the scope of the constitutional rule protecting environment and climate.
Environmental groups have no more options in the Norwegian legal system, Mr. Sunde said, adding 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 suit against 33 countries.