The complaint against Statoil ASA filed by Norwegian Climate Network and Concerned Scientists Norway alleges that Statoil ASA breached the Environment chapter of the OECD Guidelines by investing in the oil sands of Alberta and thereby contributing to Canada’s violation of international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the period from 2008 to 2012. The complaint maintains that Canada’s oil sands must remain unexploited if the world is to have a chance of stabilizing the climate.
According to the complaint, as state-owned company Statoil has a particular responsibility to withdraw from extractions that undermine other Norwegian climate obligations. The complainants insist the company should withdraw from all oil sands production in Canada based on its incompatibility with the sustainability provisions of the Guidelines.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
After receiving the complaint, the NCP forwarded it to the company and requested a response. Statoil confirmed its activities in Canada and maintained that the NCP is not mandated to assess whether countries like Canada honour their legal obligations, but is tasked to assess whether the OECD Guidelines are respected. Furthermore, Statoil argued that the complaint mostly concerns Canadas GHG emissions and alleged breach of international agreements.
After an initial review period of approximately three months, the NCP issued an initial assessment rejecting the case. The NCP underscored that in this particular case the complaint is directed more towards Canada’s policy of allowing oil sands development than it is towards the manner in which Statoil has operated in the context of this policy.
The NCP also found that the complaint did not concern the issue of whether Statoils activities may be in breach of by the OECD Guidelines. The NCP maintains that the complainants failed to show on what basis it is the responsibility of Statoil to ensure that Canada meets its targets and how this particular company has specifically contributed to and is responsible for Canadas level of GHG emissions.
Despite rejecting the case, the NCP did call attention to the risks that oil sands operations present to the climate and environment.