The interest has been great, both nationally and internationally, in advance of a historic climate case that started in Oslo district court on Tuesday.
The courtroom, with a capacity for 250 people, was full, and there were long queues outside when Judge Hugo Abelseth opened the trial on Tuesday morning.
Greenpeace, Natur (Nature) and Ungdom og Besteforeldrenes klimaaksjon (Youth and Grandparents’ Climate Action) brought the case against the state.
Environmentalists believe that by planning new oil fields in vulnerable areas of the Barents Sea, the state has violated section 112 of the Constitution, which requires that a good environment be ensured for future generations, and that the state must undertake measures in line with this goal.
‘We believe the planned new fields are invalid because they represent an excessive risk for future climate change, and because climate change consequences have not been investigated’, said Greenpeace leader, Truls Gulowsen, to NTB news agency.
‘We ask the court to conduct a quality check of whether the decision is within the guidelines that apply to decisions that may have irreversible consequences,’ said environmental lawyer, Cathrine Hambro in her introductory presentation.
Government Attorney, Fredrik Sejersted, pointed out that both the Petroleum Act, and the Public Administration Act, were followed in the allocation of new licenses, and that these followed extensive academic, administrative and political processes.
Thus, the State believe that no violation of the constitution has occurred.
Four expert witnesses will be heard during the trial, which will last for eight days.
Both a national, and international, audience are following the argument with great interest.
‘The lawsuit has broad implications abroad also, where there are ongoing environmental issues for the courts to consider. What happens in Norway in this case will have a lot to say about how these issues are evaluated elsewhere’, said Professor at the Department of Public Law, Ole Kristian Fauchald, of the Law Faculty at the University of Oslo, to NRK news.
‘A decision in the environmental movement’s favour will be noted and would create an important precedent. So there is a lot to win or lose in this case’, said Fauchald.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today