International Environmental Law

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Extraterritoriality of Oil Constitutionalism in People v Arctic Oil

On 22 December 2020, the Supreme Court of Norway delivered its judgement in People v Arctic Oil on the interpretation of Article 112 of the Norwegian Constitution on the right to a clean and healthy environment. This case has been in the spotlight as it dwells on conflicts between climate goals and energy policy, and whether oil can be exploited and exported. The Plaintiffs - a combination of NGOs and citizens – challenged the legality of the Norwegian government’s practice of granting exploratory licenses in the Arctic. Though commentary on the judgement has focused on the State’s human rights obligations in the context of climate change, the primary issue identified by the Court is a constitutional one; the Court commences its decision with stating that the solution for this case is in the realm of separation of powers, or to what extent courts could intervene in judicial and executive activity in order to safeguard the environment. The issue of separation of powers points to a preference for a procedural approach to oil policy,…

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The ECtHR’s Pending Climate Change Case: What’s Ill-Treatment Got To Do With It?

On 30 November, the Court made headlines when it communicated its first climate change case. The application was brought by six Portuguese children and young people, with the crowd-funded support of the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN). The respondents are 33 Member States of the Council of Europe, and the case – which was taken…

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The Mauritius Oil Spill: Using Africa’s ‘judicial environmentalism’ as an avenue for redress?

Since the MV Wakashio ship ran aground on 25 July this year, Mauritius has been facing an unfolding human and environmental disaster. Up to 100,000 Mauritians took to the streets in late August to protest against the State’s handling of the disaster, one of the largest protests in the country in over 40 years. In this…

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People v Arctic Oil before Supreme Court of Norway – What’s at stake for human rights protection in the climate crisis?

During the past week, the Norwegian Supreme Court has been hearing the People v Arctic Oil case, a rights-based challenge to the Norwegian State’s grant of petroleum exploration licenses. The case raises myriad questions of significance regarding States’ human rights obligations in the context of climate change. Here, we consider two of them: the geographic scope…

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Climate change and the European Court of Human Rights: The Portuguese Youth Case

On 3 September, six Portuguese children and young adults (aged 8 to 21) issued an Application to the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”) against 33 Council of Europe Member States (all of the EU 27, plus the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine) in respect of the profound, ongoing, and worsening impact that climate change is having upon…

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