Norway recently unveiled plans to ban the use of oil for heating purposes by 2020, but until then, the country will still drill for oil in places where it feels doing so is justified. In support of the plan is a recent ruling by Norway’s government, in which an Oslo court approved the country’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.
As reported by Reuters, the case was brought forward by environmental groups Greenpeace and Nature and Youth Group, who argued the act of drilling went against citizens’ rights to a healthy environment. Specifically, the groups called out a 2015 oil licensing round in the Arctic that awarded gas and oil companies like Chevron, calling it unconstitutional. Their assertion ultimately failed to sway the court, which stated it was “inappropriate” to attempt to use the country’s constitution in their argument (even going so far as to characterize it as a publicity stunt) instead of putting forth better regulations on greenhouse gases.
“The environmental organizations’ argument that the plan violates the Constitution’s Article 112 has not succeeded,” the Oslo district court ruled, according to Reuters. “The state, represented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, is exonerated.”
Norway hasn’t completely lost sight of its green agenda, however, which includes being carbon neutral by 2030, converting all cars to electric, and the construction of an electric highway. The country’s government said it’s taking note of global warming’s effects on ice in the Arctic, and any new drilling projects wouldn’t start for another 10-15 years. The Arctic’s output is also relatively small compared to other areas, with Reuters noting it may provide ways to replace oil production in areas in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea.
Still, Norway remains one of Europe’s largest producers of oil and gas. It’s continued oil drilling goes against the environmentally friendly decisions it’s made in the past, as well as its support of the Paris Agreement. It may be that in the 10-15 years the country has said will elapse before it starts any new drilling operations in the Arctic, new rules and regulations will be put in place to prevent further drilling. As climate scientists have already warned, the impact of losing more Arctic ice would have devastating consequences for millions around the world.