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Judgment and Ruling in a New Climate Lawsuit

Simonsen Vogt Wiig has represented Föreningen Greenpeace Norden and Natur og Ungdom in a lawsuit against the state through the Ministry of Energy regarding the validity of the ministry's decision to approve the Plan for Development and Operation (PDO) for three oil and gas fields in the North Sea – Breidablikk, Tyrving, and Yggdrasil.
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Yesterday, the Oslo District Court issued its decision in the case. The court determined that all three PDO permits are invalid because the greenhouse gas emissions from the fields have not been adequately assessed for their environmental consequences. This is in violation of procedural rules in the petroleum law, interpreted in light of Article 112, paragraph two, of the Constitution, and the EU Project Directive. These rules are designed to ensure public participation in the crucial societal area represented by the petroleum sector.

The court emphasized that the Supreme Court’s decision in the previous climate lawsuit, HR-2020-2472-P, establishes that emissions from the combustion of oil and gas must be assessed for their environmental consequences before permission is granted to commence operations in new oil fields (PDO). This assessment must take place regardless of where the combustion occurs. Therefore, the court concluded that the state had adopted an incorrect interpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision.

The environmental organizations also succeeded in their request for a temporary injunction against the three fields. This means that the state is prohibited from making any other decisions that presuppose a valid PDO until the case is legally settled. No new development or operation requiring such decisions can be initiated.

The decision is historic and represents a victory for key principles of the rule of law and future generations. It reaffirms that the state must adhere to the decisions of the Supreme Court and the rules governing democratic participation in significant decision-making processes.

The legal team from Simonsen Vogt Wiig consisted of partner and lawyer Jenny Sandvig, lawyer Camilla Hagelien, and Carl Victor Waldenstrøm.

Read the Judgment and Ruling (Norwegian)