The Oslo District Court rendered its decision on the constitutionality of the new exploration licences to drill in the Barents Sea granted in 2016. According to the Court, neither Norway’s Constitution, nor Norway’s international obligations have been violated. Environmentalists are disappointed.


A lawsuit against the Norwegian government for granting new oil exploration licences in the Barents Sea was filed by Nature and Youth and Greenpeace Nordic. According to the Nature and Youth and Greenpeace Nordic, the licensing decision was incompatible with Norway’s commitment to fight climate change under the Paris Agreement and constitutes violation of their constitutional right to an environment. Article 112 of the Norway’s constitution provides for a right to an environment that is conducive to health and to a natural environment whose productivity and diversity are maintained. The plaintiffs argued that the licencing decision significantly contributes to further warming of the climate and can never be justified on the basis of economic objectives.[1]


On 4 January 2017, the Oslo District Court reached a decision. The Court found that exploration for new oil reserves did not violate constitutional right to a health environment and rejected plaintiff’s argument that expanding in oil production is incompatible with Norway’s international obligations arising from the Paris Agreement. According to the Court, Norway is only responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions within its borders, not those caused by burning exported oil and gas.


In reaction to the Courts verdict, Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Nordic, said: “It is terribly sad that the court did not take into account the global perspective of climate change.”


It is worthy to mention that Norway has been experiencing raising public opposition to oil drilling. Since the Green Party wants a halt to oil and gas exploration and to phase out existing fields within 15 years, future of oil exploration in Norway is expected to play important role in talks to form a new government.[2]



The gLAWcal Team



[1] Legal writ submitted to Oslo District Court. Available at: <>

[2] The Norwegians who would slay golden energy goose. Politico. Available at: <>.