Legal challenge over UK funding of Mozambique gas project goes to appeal court

Government approval of $1.15bn financing for a liquified natural gas project in Mozambique will be challenged at the Court of Appeal this morning (Tuesday 5 December 2022).

Friends of the Earth campaigners outside Downing Street, December 2021. Photo: Friends of the Earth

A year ago, a case brought by Friends of the Earth ended in deadlock, when two High Court judges disagreed on the verdict.

The challenge was dismissed so that it could be heard again in the appeal court.

Friends of the Earth will argue at the new hearing that the financing, through the government’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), was unlawful.

It was permitted, the environmental organisation will say, after the project was incorrectly judged to be compatible with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Friends of the Earth has estimated that the facility would emit 4.5bn tonnes of greenhouse gases over its lifetime – more than the combined annual emissions of the 27 EU countries.

The estimated emissions were not calculated as part of the government’s approval process or evaluated against global climate goals, the organisation has said.

The Mozambique project also contradicts the UK’s obligation to help other countries meet targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it added.

Friends of the Earth’s head of legal, Will Rundle, said:

“UKEF not only helped finance the project, but it failed to measure all the emissions it would produce – misleading ministers about the scale of its impact. This is a complete failure of credible governance and morally unacceptable in a climate crisis.

“Climate assessments for fossil fuel projects must measure all the emissions, period. We need to understand the climate impacts of spending taxpayers’ money, so we can decline carbon intensive investments like this and fund renewable energy projects instead.”

UKEF argued in court in December 2021 that the Paris Agreement was a “high level aspirational declaration”, that had not been incorporated into UK domestic law and did not contain “clear and specific obligations”.

The government’s lawyer also said funding for the project was the only source of foreign money that would enable Mozambique to “put in place the basics to harness its huge capacity for renewables” and defend against the effects of climate change. 

The appeal decision is expected by early 2023.

The case is listed for court 71 at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London, starting at about 10.30am. It will also be livestreamed on the Court of Appeal YouTube channel.

8 replies »

  1. Hmm, is that the same gas that is being required in Europe and delivered to Europe? As seen in recent headlines, ” BP has begun shipping LNG from Mozambique. First export shipment to set sail was hailed as a milestone for one of Africa’s poorest nations.”

    Tut, tut, Mozambique, you should remain one of Africa’s poorest nations. Tut, tut, Mozambique, you should not help to replace Russian gas into Europe, and just let the Europeans continue to fund the murder of men, women and children in Ukraine.

    Of course, some bits of Europe could get their finger out and use their own gas, couldn’t they!

  2. Ruth, Not sure what this has got to do with “INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM ON UK FRACKING, ONSHORE OIL AND GAS AND THE REACTIONS TO IT” . Maybe you should cover the cut-off of Russian gas supplies to Europe as well.

  3. An article on this may explain why Europe needs African gas:

    “According to preliminary results of the damage site inspection, technogenic craters with a depth of 3 to 5 meters were found on the seabed at a distance of about 248 m from each other. The section of the pipe between the craters is destroyed, the radius of pipe fragments dispersion is at least 250 m. Experts continue to analyse the survey data.”

  4. Two more added to the difficult to get insurance category……..

    “Two Just Stop Oil protesters have been found guilty of causing criminal damage to a John Constable masterpiece.
    Eben Lazarus, 22, and Hannah Hunt, 23, both from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, taped a “dystopian version” of The Hay Wain on to the original artwork on 4 July.”

  5. The government have just announced they will be doubling LNG imports from the USA, I’m sure the protestors will be pleased with that. Better put the money in the hands of Yankee billionaires than a third world country like Mozambique. Gritted teeth.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s