The High Court yesterday granted Greenpeace permission to proceed with a Judicial Review of the Government’s decision to launch a new licensing oil and gas round, with fossil fuel companies submitting more than 100 licences to explore for new oil and gas.
The judge has granted permission to Greenpeace for a full Judicial Review of the Government’s decision not to take into account the environmental effects of consuming the oil and gas to be extracted in the new licensing round.
Greenpeace’s legal argument is that this is a glaring omission from the Government’s decision making, including its climate compatibility check. Since at no time do the test involve looking at the emissions created from burning fossil fuels, despite the fact that this will amount to more than 80% of the total emissions generated from the new licences.
This news comes one month after stark warnings from the IPCC and UN Secretary General which yet again restated that there must be no new fossil fuel development if the world is to limit warming to 1.5C, with current approved projects already enough to take us beyond that point.
Philip Evans, Greenpeace UK’s climate campaigner, said:
“This verdict is the first real setback for the Government’s reckless oil and gas licensing round. Ministers will now be forced to justify in front of a judge why they want to unleash a new drilling frenzy in the North Sea against the advice of leading scientists and the UN chief, without assessing the climate impact.
“The Government already has the solutions to tackle the scandal of the cost of living, guarantee our energy security, and help the climate but the Government is ignoring them in favour of their friends in the fossil fuel industry. They must instead upgrade our old fashioned electricity grid, invest in cheap home grown renewables and stop energy waste from our homes.”
A court hearing on Tuesday will determine whether the environmental group will be permitted a judicial review of the decision, made during Liz Truss’s short-lived time as prime minister.
Last year, her administration kicked off an oil and gas licensing round under which companies could bid for more than 100 new licences to explore for oil and gas.
The North Sea Transition Authority began the process in October, offering up about 900 locations for exploration, and it is expected to conclude in June. It is the first new licensing round since 2019-20.
The decision was carried out by the then energy secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, under Truss despite warnings of possible legal action by Greenpeace. The green organisation has since carried out that threat, arguing in its court filing that the new licences will further harm the environment.