İrem UZUN -TDO- Norway’s Supreme Court began examining Wednesday a case brought by two environmental groups seeking the cancellation of oil licenses granted by the Norwegian state in the Arctic.  The case is being watched closely in a country that owes its vast wealth to its abundant oil and gas reserves, as it could impact its future oil production.

For the government, Attorney General Fredrik Sejersted said the Barents See drilling licenses complied with "thorough professional, administrative, and political processes." Greenpeace Norway head Frode Pleym said the appeal case was to persuade the Supreme Court that Norway's 2014 constitution would be breached if drilling prevailed. The appellants, including Friends of the Earth Norway also cite the risk of "uncontrolled oil spills” and "inadequate” socio-economic assessment of what CO2 emissions will actually cost. 

The oil and gas industry, which made Norway one of the richest countries in the world, is also the largest emitter of carbon dioxide which causes dangerous climate warming.  Norway has pledged to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2030 compared to 1990. Pleym said the country will not be able to meet its pledge under the 2015 Paris Agreement, if it continues to drill for more oil.  “While this case is specifically about the 10 licenses, we do hope that the Court’s decision to rule them in breach of the constitution could lead to different political course on oil exploration,” he added.  In a sign of the case’s importance, all members of the Supreme Court, bar three who are deemed to have conflicts of interest, will hear arguments until November 12. A ruling is not expected until December or January.

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