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Environmentalists Lose Court Challenge To New UK Oil And Gas Licenses

London’s High Court dismissed on Thursday a legal challenge by environmental groups which have attacked the UK’s new licenses for oil and gas production in court, claiming the government hasn’t properly reviewed the emissions from burning the fossil fuels.

The two climate campaign groups, Greenpeace and Uplift, have challenged the UK government’s decision to award new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea, claiming the cabinet failed to properly check “the damage it will do to the climate.”

“The government ignored over 80 percent of the carbon emissions these licences will produce when the oil and gas is actually burnt. While the government is trying to pretend these emissions don’t exist, we’ll certainly feel their impact,” Greenpeace said earlier this year.

But Justice David Holgate of the High Court dismissed the environmentalists’ claims for judicial review, writing in the ruling that the government’s decision not to take the emissions from burning of the end products into account was lawful and not irrational. 

“There was no internal inconsistency between the approach taken by the Secretary of State to whether end use emissions should be assessed as a likely significant effect of the Plan and his comparison of reasonable alternatives,” Justice Holgate wrote.

Greenpeace and Uplift were disappointed with the court’s decision.

“This is completely irresponsible behaviour from ministers during a climate crisis. That’s why we will be appealing, and hope this ruling will be overturned,” said Philip Evans, Greenpeace UK’s climate campaigner.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated in July that hundreds of new oil and gas licenses would be granted, “as the UK Government continues to back the North Sea oil and gas industry as part of a drive to make Britain more energy independent.”

The government and the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) announced a joint commitment to undertake future licensing rounds, which will continue to be subject to a climate compatibility test.

Last month, the UK government stirred another uproar among environmentalists by giving the green light to the controversial Rosebank oil and gas project in the North Sea.

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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