The Arctic region is simultaneously facing profound, negative ecological impacts of climate change and is also subject to expanding oil and gas exploration and extraction. Facing a critical decision involving Arctic oil expansion, Norway is contending with its position as a global leader in the environmental movement and its historic and continued economic reliance on the oil and gas industry. This research contextualizes Norway within the Arctic region, discusses Norway as a petroleum exporting country, and addresses how value and identity play a role in environmental policy creation. Recent human rights-based climate change litigation in Norway, People v. Arctic Oil, suggests that Norway’s expansion of Arctic oil production constitutes a human rights violation, violating the right to a safe environment and the right to life, based on the negative impacts of increasing carbon emissions. This litigation is exposing Norway’s paradoxical relationship to environmental responsibility and calls for real considerations of responsibility and action in regard to climate change. As a comparative analysis, this research examines rights-based climate change litigation in other parts of Western Europe and the US. Staving off dangerous climate change is a shared global responsibility, but individual nations must take action to address and reduce their own production of carbon emissions. Rights-based climate change litigation acts as an opportunity for citizens to advocate for stricter emissions regulations and more progressive, immediate climate change action on the grounds that climate change represents a real threat to human rights.

Paper prepared for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar/Geography Capstone.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Todd Lookingbill

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