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Court blocks development of several oil projects after new information comes to light — here's what happened

The ruling, which Reuters wrote "could set a precedent for new fields," took into account a 2020 decision by Norway's Supreme Court.

The ruling, which Reuters wrote “could set a precedent for new fields,” took into account a 2020 decision by Norway’s Supreme Court.

Photo Credit: iStock

A Norwegian court has halted the operation of three new gas and oil fields after it found that the environmental impact of the projects wasn't taken into consideration.

Reuters reported on Jan. 18 that Aker BP and Equinor had their permits to develop fields in the North Sea revoked after environmental groups petitioned the Oslo District Court. 

In their request, the groups cited how the approval process hadn't considered the harmful pollution that would be generated by the future burning of the dirty energy fuels. 

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"This is a full and complete victory for the climate over Norway," said Frode Pleym, the head of Greenpeace Norway, which filed the lawsuit alongside Nature and Youth. 

Equinor's Breidablikk location, which was expected to churn out a minimum of 55,000 barrels per day from 2024 to 2026, will be allowed to function until the end of the year, while Aker BP's Tyrving and Yggdrasil fields had yet to commence their operations. 

The ruling, which Reuters wrote "could set a precedent for new fields," took into account a 2020 decision by Norway's Supreme Court.

"An impact assessment ensures that dissenting voices are heard and considered, and that the decision-making basis is verifiable and available to the public," Judge Lena Skjold Rafoss wrote in an assessment.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Norway has promised to reduce its pollution by at least 50% by 2030 compared to its levels in 1990, and it has taken legislative steps as it eyes those goals. 

Notably, heating systems that run on dirty energy have been banned since 2016, and around 60% of its buildings are instead outfitted with heat pumps, a versatile heating and cooling system that reduces pollution and saves people money on electric bills.   

The bulk of the country's electrical grid also runs on renewable energy sources, including wind

Nonetheless, Norway Energy Minister Terje Aasland told Reuters that the government was considering appealing the court's decision. 

While the outlet didn't cite any specific reasoning from Aasland for the disagreement, the IEA notes that Norway is the seventh-largest producer of natural gas in the world, and it was responsible for 2.3% of oil production in 2020. 

At the end of January, Greenpeace reported that the country had moved forward with its appeal.

"The fact that the State is appealing against the judgment is a shame, but there is no reason to believe that the outcome in the Appeals Court will be any different than the District Court's," Pleym said in an official statement. 

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