- Misleading Basis for Oil Exploration in the Barents Sea

Statistics Norway researcher Mads Greaker was picked as a witnes in the climate case because he has a long history of conducting research on the climate. He argues that there is a series of errors and misleading presentations in the Barens Sea Oil Exploration Impact Assessment (Photo: Press/Statistics Norway)
Climate researcher Mads Greaker was one of the first witnesses in the climate lawsuit against the Norwegian state. He has found several errors and flaws in the Impact Assessment that was conducted during the Stoltenberg II government.


Climate researcher Mads Greaker was one of the first witnesses in the climate lawsuit against the Norwegian state. He has found several errors and flaws in the Impact Assessment that was conducted during the Stoltenberg II government.

Greaker was picked out to witness on the case because of his long history of climate research. He argues that there are a series of errors and misleading presentations in the Impact Assessment for Petroleum Exploration in the Barents Sea.

- The Impact Assessment with its underlying reports forms an insufficiently worked-through foundation for the decision to award licenses and opening the 23rd round of licences in the Barents Sea, says Greaker. He is Head of Research at Statistics Norway and holds a PhD in Social Economics.

The Norwegian Storting (parliament) discussed the issue of opening the southeastern parts of the Barents Sea for oil exploration on 19 June 2013, following an impact assessment, and said yes to the government’s recommendation that the area be opened up for such exploration. Greaker refers to a report worked out for Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth prior to the climate lawsuit.

- There were many and in part grave errors and flaws in the assessment. Among others, no present value analysis is conducted, costs related to CO2 emissions from activities are not taken into account and the employment effect is overrated, he writes in a report he has co-authored together with researcher Knut Einar Rosendahl.

This illustration shows the 23rd round of petroleum exploration licenses, in the Barents Sea.
This illustration shows the 23rd round of petroleum exploration licenses, in the Barents Sea.


Ignores environmental consequences

In addition, the report states that petroleum activities in the southeastern parts of the Barents Sea will involve a series of effects for the climate, effects to which private petroleum companies pay rather little regard.

- This applies a.o. to the effect that uncontrolled emissions have on the climate, and also that of global petroleum consumption increasing, the scientist writes.

In their report, the scientists conclude that an exhaustive cost-benefit analysis should be conducted in order to know whether or not petroleum activities can be expected to be socio-economic profitable.

- Such an analysis should contain an assessment of future climate gas costs, oil and gas price risks and cost excess risks, Greaker concludes.

Also read: Money pours in for historic climate lawsuit in Norway 

Costs for accidents and emissions

Furthermore, Greaker and his colleague Rosendahl argue that the cost analysis should provide a complete rundown of the costs related to potential accidents and changed emissions in other countries as a consequence of Norwegian petroleum activity.

- One should also consider how to prevent non-viable socio-economic projects from being realized in areas that are opened up for petroleum activity, the scientists argues. He believes the outcome of the lawsuit will demonstrate whether or not it carries significance in a historic perspective – or not.

- I am sure there is a small chance that the climate lawsuit will bring an end to oil exploration in the Arctic, however – I believe the lawyers disagree, he says.



Facts about the climate lawsuit

  • Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth Norway sued the Norwegian state on 18 October 2016 for its decision to permit oil exploration in the Barents Sea
  • The case is heard before Oslo District Court in the period from 13 to 24 November 2017
  • The case is represented by the Attorney General
  • This is the first time ever that the Norwegian Constitution’s section 112 is tried before a court of law
  • The ‘climate section’ states that the State shall protect nature and the environment for future generations.
  • The plaintiffs also argue that the awarding of exploration licenses in the Barents Sea is in violation of the Paris Agreement

(Source: Greenpeace Norway)





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