By Alister Doyle and Terje Solsvik
OSLO (Reuters) - Environmental groups launched an appeal on Monday after an Oslo court rejected their arguments that Norway's oil and gas exploration in the Arctic violates citizens' right to a clean environment.
Greenpeace and Nature and Youth disputed the Oslo District Court's verdict last month, particularly that Norway could not be responsible for greenhouse gas emissions from the use of its oil and gas exported abroad.
The Oslo court said a 2015 licensing round that granted offshore exploration rights to companies including Statoil, Chevron, Lukoil and ConocoPhillips was acceptable under Norway's anti-pollution laws.
"There is already enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to seriously damage our future," said Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway, in launching the appeal.
"By opening up these pristine areas for oil exploration, Norway is effectively smuggling its emissions outside of its own borders and furthering climate change, which harms everyone, everywhere," he said.
Greenpeace says the court battle is the first in the world to test whether climate change is a threat to rights enshrined in a nation's constitution.
About 100 national constitutions around the world, including Norway's, include guarantees of a safe environment.
On January 4, the Oslo District court ruled against the two groups and ordered them to pay the state's legal costs of 580,000 Norwegian crowns ($75,000). Since then, Greenpeace has raised about 300,000 crowns in donations.
A Facebook poll on the group's website showed 95 percent support for an appeal and Greenpeace said the money involved shows the case is far more than a publicity stunt among greens.
The two groups appealed directly to Norway's Supreme Court, hoping to bypass the Appeals Court. If the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, it would go to the Appeals Court instead, they said.
Norway is western Europe's largest producer and exporter of oil and gas and is looking ever further north. So far in the Arctic, it produces oil at Eni's Goliat field and gas from Statoil's Snoehvit.
Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg says the nation can keep pumping for decades while complying with the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which aims to end the fossil fuel era this century and replace it with renewable energies.
(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)