Lofoten, Norway – The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has anchored at the island of Lofoten in Northern Norway to join with climate activists at a youth camp of around 400 young people who oppose the Norwegian government’s oil drilling. For more than a week peaceful activists have protested in the Barents Sea against the Norwegian government’s aggressive search for oil in the fragile Arctic.
Greenpeace Nordic and its co-plaintiff, Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth), will face the government in Court in Oslo in November, where the new drilling will be subject to a historic climate lawsuit. They argue that granting licenses to open a new oil frontier breaches the Norwegian Constitutional right to a healthy and safe environment for current and future generations and contravenes the Paris Agreement.
One of the groups at Lofoten will be the organisation “Our Children’s Trust”. Our Children’s Trust is supporting the Juliana v U.S. lawsuit; a climate change case on behalf of future generations in the United States – brought by 21 young plaintiffs from 10 to 21 years-old and a climate scientist – who are taking President Donald Trump to federal court.
“Our generation and future generations have done the least to cause the climate crisis – yet it is our future that is most at risk. Across the globe people are standing up to demand that governments stop threatening – and start protecting – our lives. In the Juliana v. United States lawsuit we sued the United States government for violating our fundamental right to a safe and stable climate. And while President Trump can pull out of the the Paris Agreement, he cannot pull out of our lawsuit,” said Kelsey Juliana, a young plaintiff in the Juliana v U.S lawsuit.
The young Americans assert that their government, through the affirmative actions it has taken and continues to take to cause climate change, is violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property and has failed to protect essential public trust resources.
“The Norwegian government has a duty to safeguard the right to a stable climate based on the Constitutional guarantee to a healthy and safe environment for current and future generations. But how can the Norwegian government protect this constitutional right while also opening up 40 new blocks for oil and gas drilling in the Barents Sea? All 21 of us in the Juliana v U.S. case stand with Greenpeace, Nature & Youth and other young people across the globe who are fighting to secure and enforce their legal right to a safe and stable climate,” said Kiran Oommen, a young plaintiff in the Juliana v U.S lawsuit.
The Norwegian lawsuit is also backed by the Senior Women For Climate Protection (KlimaSeniorinnen), an association of more than 700 women aged 65 and older. They are part of a wave of climate litigation, demanding government accountability in court. The seniors claim that authorities are failing to fulfil their duty to protect their human rights as required by the Swiss constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Climate action must protect vulnerable people – young and old – and in every country. When governments fail to live up to their constitutions we all have to step up. Norway and Switzerland and all other countries must do more to avoid catastrophic climate change. We are more than 770 senior women suing our government because we are already suffering from the dire consequences of climate change. But we are not doing this for ourselves. It is for the youth and the generations to come as they will live in a world of disasters if we do not quit fossil fuels quickly. We have a strong case, and I’m sure our legal case will make a profound difference,” said Anne Mahrer (69), co-president of Klima Seniorinnen.
While the group is awaiting the federal administrative court’s decision on their lawsuit against the Swiss government and its climate policies, Norwegian Natur og Ungdom is excited to plead its case at trial in November.
“It is amazing to experience the global support for our lawsuit in Norway. The government knows that burning oil causes climate change, and there is already more oil than we can afford to burn. They know burning oil contributes to the melting of Arctic ice and increases the risk of extreme weather, like typhoons and droughts, putting homes and families in danger. Still they have just opened a new, Arctic oil frontier. These reckless oil drillings needs to be stopped,” said Ingrid Skjoldvær, activist and leader of Natur og Ungdom.
After one week at the activist camp, the Arctic Sunrise and close to 30 activists will continue exposing Statoil’s oil drilling. The state-owned oil company is planning to drill for oil at the Korpfjell well this summer, a controversial site 400 km from land, close to the ice edge and important feeding areas for seabirds. This is the first opening of new areas for oil drillings in 20 years and it is the northernmost area licensed by Norway – ever.