Oil slump hits Norway consumer confidence

Norwegians expect the country to struggle financially this year according to the latest survey by Finance Norway, as the slump in the oil price brings consumer confidence to its lowest point since the 2008 financial crisis.

Oil slump hits Norway consumer confidence
This is the site of the proposed onshore receiving terminal for oil from Statoil's Johan Castberg field. The company has put the project on hold pending a rebound in the oil price. Photo: Jan-Morten B
The proportion of Norwegians describing themselves as ‘pessimistic’ about the coming year had increased from 20 percent last autumn to 40 percent today, in the latest quarterly Expectation Survey carried out TNS Gallup and Finance Norway. 
The proportion of ‘optimists’ meanwhile had fallen from 20 percent to 16 percent. 
“The sharp fall in oil prices has obviously made a strong impression on people,”  Idar Kreutzer, Finance Norway’s chief executive, said in a statement. 
However, most Norwegians did not expect their own personal financial situation to worsen, the survey revealed. 
"Many have used, and will to use, the big drop in interest rates as an opportunity to reduce their debt and thereby also their own vulnerability," he said. 


NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration

Two NGOs and six young climate activists have decided to take Norway to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to demand the cancellation of oil permits in the Arctic, Greenpeace announced on Tuesday.

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration
Northern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

It’s the latest turn in a legal tussle between environmental organisations Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth Norway on one side and the Norwegian state on the other.

The organisations are demanding the government cancel 10 oil exploration licenses in the Barents Sea awarded in 2016, arguing it was unconstitutional.

Referring to the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the organisations claim that the oil licenses violated article 112 of Norway’s constitution, guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy environment.”

The six activists, alongside Greenpeace Nordic and Young Friends of the Earth Norway, hope that the European Court of Human Rights will hear their case and find that Norway’s oil expansion is in breach of human rights,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

In December, Norway’s Supreme Court rejected the claim brought by the organisations, their third successive legal defeat.

READ MORE: Norway sees oil in its future despite IEA’s warnings¬†

While most of the judges on the court agreed that article 112 could be invoked if the state failed to meet its climate and environmental obligations– they did not think it was applicable in this case.

The court also held that the granting of oil permits was not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, in part because they did not represent “a real and immediate risk” to life and physical integrity.

“The young activists and the environmental organisations argue that this judgment was flawed, as it discounted the significance of their environmental constitutional rights and did not take into account an accurate assessment of the consequences of climate change for the coming generations,” Greenpeace said.

On Friday, the Norwegian government unveiled a white paper on the country’s energy future, which still includes oil exploration despite a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA recently warned that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Norwegian case is an example of a global trend in which climate activists are increasingly turning to courts to pursue their agenda.