Consecutive and compounding natural disasters will place increasing stress on existing emergency management arrangement. As the events of the 2019-2020 bushfire season show, what was unprecedented is now our future.

Mark Binskin The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements Report
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The young Norwegians taking their own country to court over oil

Despite Norway’s green credentials, its infamous state wealth is due to its huge oil exports. This week, Norwegian youths are challenging what they describe as a double standard, in court.

In the Barents Sea in June, the sun is still shining at 2am.

Small waves refract the orange sunlight into the hazy air. A sailing boat cuts through the freezing Arctic waters. Far beyond it, on the horizon, rises a giant. This is Goliat, the world’s northernmost operating oil rig, drilling for fuel on the Norwegian continental shelf.

The boat’s radio crackles. Goliat’s workers are warning the ship’s crew to stay out of the rig’s exclusion zone.

“And enjoy sailing,” the rigger adds.

“And you guys,” the 21-year-old captain, Thor Due, says, “enjoy drilling!”

Thor’s natural politeness overrides his true feelings.

It is 2018, and Thor and his crewmates are on their way home from Bear Island, south of the Svalbard archipelago, where they have been documenting the area’s rich wildlife. They worry this unique landscape would be threatened by any oil spills.

But their main concern is far bigger.

It is just a few months after Thor and other members of Norway’s Nature and Youth group – environmentalists under the age of 25 – lost the first round of what has become a long-running legal fight with the Norwegian state over oil.

On 4 November, this battle will come to a head when the two sides face each other for a final hearing in Norway’s Supreme Court.

Thor and his fellow activists want to set their country on a new course – to force one of the wealthiest states in the world to abandon its biggest source of income.

They say that oil and gas being extracted from Norwegian waters, to be sold on to the rest of the world, is contributing to devastating climate change. Norway is Europe’s second-biggest oil producer after Russia.

The activists contend that by issuing new licences for oil exploration in the Arctic in May 2016, the state breached its own constitutional obligation to ensure a clean environment for its citizens and future generations.

The group, together with members of Greenpeace Norway, lost the initial case – the court ruling that Norway could not be held responsible for pollution beyond its borders.

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