Greenpeace together with the Norwegian group Nature and Youth (Natur og Ungdom) have taken the Norwegian government to court over their decision to open up areas of the Arctic Ocean for oil exploration. They are basing their legal claims on Section 112 of the Norwegian constitution which gives the right to a healthy environment, as well as the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement.
In May 2016, the Norwegian government issued 10 licenses to 13 companies for the exploration of oil and gas in the Barents Sea, above the Arctic Circle . A continued pursuit of the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels implies continued emissions of greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Drilling in the Arctic sea would also pose a serious risk to the marine environment in the case of an oil spill, and the extreme conditions would make a cleanup operation challenging to manage .
As the plaintiffs claim, this commitment to contributing to climate change and risking the environment is a violation of Section 112 of the Norwegian constitution; this is the first time this high level law has been tested in court. The law states: “Everyone has the right to an environment that safeguards their health and to nature where production ability and diversity are preserved. Natural resources must be managed from a long-term and versatile consideration which also upholds this right for future generations”. §112 was carved into a five tonne block of ice which was placed outside the court by Greenpeace on the first day of the trial (14/11/2017).
The plaintiffs (from Greenpeace, Nature and Youth and Grandparents Climate Campaign) claim Arctic drilling will not only violate this law, but also constitutes climate injustice as further contributions of greenhouse gases from oil combustion will exacerbate climate change and put communities around the world at greater risk. Norway’s decision to issue the licenses in the Barents Sea- for the first time in twenty years  - came just one month after they signed the Paris Agreement. Norway was the first developed country to ratify the agreement, just ten days after this licensing round .
Following the science presented by the IPCC, the Paris Agreement requires countries to pledge to keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C or “well below” 2°C compared with pre-industrial times. As Greenpeace states, there are already more known sources of fossil fuels than can be burnt to keep within the carbon budget set by the Paris Agreement, hence exploring for Arctic oil is not in keeping with Norway’s commitment 
Pacific Islanders, already affected by climate change, were amongst those testifying at the court case in Oslo. The case has also received support from scientists, lawyers and activists , and an online petition has thus far gathered the support of over 522,200 people which has also been presented as evidence in court . During the court case Arctic drilling was also presented as a human rights issue, and a UN Committee called upon Norway to revise its policy on Arctic oil drilling on the basis that that climate change disproportionately affects women  . While the trial was underway, the Norwegian Oil Fund and the Norwegian Central bank (Norges Bank) - the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world - asked the Government for permission to divest more than 35 billion USD from oil and gas to “make the government’s wealth less vulnerable”, signalling expert support for the economic uncertainty of fossil fuels  .
Ingrid Skjoldvær, Head of Nature and Youth, comments: "If we lose, the Norwegian state will continue to drill for oil in the Arctic. This will lead to more climate change and an uncertain future for young people today, and those who come after us. Our hope is that the court will both cancel the oil licenses awarded in the 23rd licensing round and ensure that the Norwegian government start to assess the climate change consequences of distributing new oil licenses." 
On January 4th 2018 the Court reached a decision, finding the Norwegian government not responsible for breaching the Constitution. However, the Court found that the right to a healthy environment is protected by the Constitution and the Government must uphold those rights.  The groups may consider an appeal.
April 2016 - Norway signs the Paris Agreement and promises to help limit climate change
May 2016 - The Norwegian government hands out new oil licenses in the Arctic
August 2016 - Norwegian state-owned Statoil announces a massive drilling campaign
October 2016 - Greenpeace and Nature and Youth hand in lawsuit against the Norwegian government
July 2017 - Greenpeace ship is present in the Barents sea for the drilling season
November 2017 - Trial begins. Names and witness statement are submitted as evidence in Court
January 2018 - Court challenge defeated