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Norway’s top court to open hearing on Arctic oil exploration case

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Norway’s top court is on Wednesday set to begin hearing an appeal lodged by conservation groups to block new exploration licenses in the Barents Sea off northern Norway.

The plaintiffs, including Greenpeace and the Young Friends of the Earth Norway, have argued that the licenses violated an article in the Norwegian constitution guaranteeing the right to a healthy and viable environment.

They sued the Norwegian state in 2016. Subsequently, the Grandparents Climate Campaign and Friends of the Earth Norway joined the case.

“We sued the state since the politicians did not take responsibility to cut Norwegian emissions fast enough,” Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway, told news agency NTB.

Two lower Norwegian courts have already rejected their claims. The Borgarting Court of Appeal did so in January in a unanimous ruling.

The Supreme Court has reserved seven days for the hearing, which is scheduled to end on November 12.
Three of the 20 justices have been recused, one of them since she was married to a judge who participated in the appeal court ruling.

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The proceedings were to be held online due to coronavirus restrictions, but lawyers for the plaintiffs and state were to be present at the Supreme Court.

Similar cases have been launched in other countries. The Dutch Supreme Court last year supported a case launched by environmental group Urgenda aimed at forcing the Dutch government to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.

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