Three campaigners begin a legal challenge this morning to government support for the oil and gas industry.
Medical student Mikaela Loach, Jeremy Cox, a former oil refinery worker, and Kairin van Sweeden, the daughter of a Scottish oil worker, will argue at the High Court in London that continued production from the North Sea is in conflict with the UK’s goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Their case centres on the new Oil & Gas Authority strategy which was implemented in February 2021.
The claimants say this is unlawful because it redefines the meaning of maximising economic recovery to exclude consideration of tax breaks given to the industry.
They will argue that this definition fails to take account of public money supporting the industry in tax breaks and decommissioning refunds. Their case is that while some fossil fuel production may be economic to operators it is not economic for the UK as a whole.
The legal challenge, supported by the campaign group, Paid to Pollute, will argue that the strategy is incompatible with the legal obligation to reach net zero emissions by 2050. More oil and gas will be extracted than would be the case if uneconomic fossil fuels were left in the ground, causing more greenhouse gas emissions, the claimants will say.
The case coincides with another legal challenge at the High Court. Friends of the Earth is challenging government funding for a liquified natural gas project in Mozambique.