In Norway, no policy-based case has been brought by citizens (or citizen groups) who allege the breach of legal rules because Norway’s climate policy does not adequately mitigate and/or adapt to climate change. The absence of such cases in Norway are due to (i) the implementing measure for Norway’s Nationally Determined Contribution (Climate Change Law), largely matching Norway’s Nationally Determined Contribution; and (ii) the fact that Norway’s Climate Change Law is expressly not challengeable in court. However, future policy cases could be envisioned on the following grounds. First, citizens (or citizen groups) who think that Norway is breaching the law because its climate policy does not adequately mitigate and/or adapt to climate change could bring a case on human rights grounds and constitutional grounds, which are entwined as per Section 112 of the Norwegian Constitution (see below Scenario 2). No past case highlights the potential for addressing the country’s national climate policy through human rights and constitutional law. Because judicial review allows for wide state discretion, the potential of these types of cases depends on a further leverage: the inclusion of climate change in the case law of the European Courts of Human Rights (ECtHR). Standing is not a problem as Norway provides relatively broad de jure access to the courts, including by individuals and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), but costs are high, constituting a de facto barrier. Norway does not have a binary system for administrative matters, meaning that the latter are adjudicated by general courts. Courts are generalist and there exists no impartial administrative appeals authority/environmental court.
Additionally, if they can show to have interest, plaintiffs may challenge specific acts implementing existing national climate change policy, rather than the policy itself—which is not justiciable. The benchmark for scrutinizing these types of specific acts is national law, EEA law, European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) law and international law. The consistent application of national law with international law (e.g., the Paris Agreement) holds potential because Norway, a dualist country, espouses the principle of presumption of conformity with international law. In addition, the dualist principle is modified with regard to EEA lawand ECHR law, as Norway predicates their supremacy over national law (see Human Rights Act §§ 2 and 3, and EEA Act §§ 1 and 2).
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/norway
This country report has been produced by Catherine Hall, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Esmeralda Colombo, C2LI Legal Analyst. The summary is based on Esmeralda Cololmbo, “Climate Change and the Individual: A Norwegian Perspective” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.