Climate groups bring judicial reviews against UK government at Court of Session

Climate groups bring judicial reviews against UK government at Court of Session

Climate groups are launching two legal cases in the Court of Session to block a decision by UK ministers to grant permission to drain fossil fuels from the Rosebank oilfield.

Uplift and Greenpeace UK are attempting to overturn the UK government’s decision to permit the development of the oilfield – the biggest untapped one in the UK.

The groups have sought judicial review of the decision by Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho and the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), known legally as the Oil and Gas Authority.

They will argue that the decision was unlawful because it ignores emissions from burning the oil at Rosebank, which would be incompatible with the UK government’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Tessa Khan, executive director of Uplift and a climate lawyer, said: “If Rosebank goes ahead, the UK will blow its own plans to stay within safe climate limits. It’s that simple.

“If the government disagrees, it needs to provide evidence and prove it in court. The regulator also needs to be open about its reasons for approving a huge oil field when we’re facing a worsening climate crisis.

“People have had enough of oil and gas companies getting their way all the time. This case is about forcing our government to put the public’s safety first, over their need to profit.

“What’s clear from this year’s climate talks is that the UK government, like other oil producing countries, is failing to protect our world from dangerous climate change. But rather than lose hope, we can and will hold them to account, in court, starting with this decision to approve Rosebank.”

Greenpeace UK’S co-executive director, Areeba Hamid, added: “Rosebank’s development was approved under the false claim that it is entirely compatible with the UK’S legally binding climate commitments. This is a lie.

“The government used a rigged climate assessment to approve its development, deliberately ignoring all of the emissions that will come from burning the 500 million barrels of oil it contains. It’s like building a bomb and claiming it’s completely harmless so long as no-one detonates it.

“Since the oil will be exported and sold by Norwegian fossil fuel giant Equinor, Rosebank won’t deliver any benefits to the UK’S energy security, economy, or lower bills. It’s just more proof that this government is putting the profits of oil and gas companies over the British public and the planet.

“Rosebank’s development simply cannot go ahead. And we’re taking the government to court to make sure that it doesn’t.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “We strongly reject these claims and will robustly defend any such challenge.

“The UK is a world leader in reaching net zero cutting emissions faster than any other major economy, and as the independent Climate Change Committee recognises, we will still need oil and gas as part of our energy mix.

“We will continue to back the UK’S oil and gas industry, which underpins our energy security, supports up to 200,000 jobs, and will provide around £50 billion in tax revenue over the next five years, helping fund our transition to net zero.”

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