Mozambique gas challenge seeks appeal to Supreme Court

Friends of the Earth, which challenged government funding of $1.15bn for a major gas project in Mozambique, has lodged an appeal at the UK’s highest court.

Friends of the Earth campaigners opposing government funding for Mozambique gas project.
Photo: Friends of the Earth

The environmental campaign group lost its case over the climate impact of the project at the high and appeal courts.

It argued that approval of the funding was unlawful because it failed to take into account the emissions resulting from burning the gas or how these emissions would affect globally-agreed climate goals.

The appeal court judges ruled last month that it was for ministers, not judges, to decide whether projects aligned with the Paris climate agreement.

There’s been no progress on the project, run by TotalEnergies, since 2021 because of conflict and insecurity in Cabo Delgado region.

Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanne, visited the site of the project this month to assess the security situation.

The company reported revenue of more than $263bn for the 12 months to the end of September 2022. This was a 43% increase on the previous year.

Friends of the Earth said more than a million people had been displaced. Farming and fishing communities have lost their lands and livelihoods, it said.

The organisation’s lawyer Niall Toru said: 

“UK financing for this hugely damaging project was given the go ahead despite a seriously flawed climate assessment which failed to measure the project’s full impacts. Even the government’s own experts raised alarm bells over this.

“By effectively approving this approach, the Court of Appeal is setting a dangerous precedent. Ministers making decisions on fossil fuel projects cannot be allowed to ignore climate science and only pay lip service to the UK’s climate commitments.” 

Rowan Smith, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, which represents Friends of the Earth, said:

“Our client believes that the Court of Appeal’s judgment should not be allowed to stand. It represents a highly retrograde step, essentially ripping the heart out of the Paris Agreement. 

“If this judgment isn’t appealed, the provision to make finance flows consistent with a low emissions pathway is relegated to merely an objective rather than a positive obligation.

“This is likely to have a hugely chilling effect on domestic action on climate change, both in the UK and across the other member states. Our client is hoping this will be overturned by the Supreme Court.”

4 replies »

  1. “Stop funding lawyers lavish lifestyles.”

    Now, there’s a campaign I would contribute to.

    I recall, many years ago, speaking to a woman who was from East Africa. She was studying agriculture in UK, having left her husband and two children for three years to do so. Being young and foolish, I suggested to her she would be able to return and improve the indigenous agriculture. Shock/horror to me at the time, she indignantly replied that she had no intention of doing that, she wanted, and her Government had funded her, to introduce a totally new system of agriculture in her sector that would enable her fellows to eat and thrive when previously they had never been able to eat and thrive.

    Looks as if young and foolish are still about. Can’t see that the Supreme Court is required to determine that.

  2. The source of your quotation?
    The relevance of your example?
    The relevance of your point?
    But it’s so good to hear from you!

  3. Ahh, you don’t agree with my campaign!

    I don’t agree with this one either.

    Meanwhile, I note China and Russia are still conducting military exercises in Africa, still seeing it an area they can “influence”. Must be their generosity of spirit! Maybe they see hard power as more effective than soft power?

    I don’t believe that offering further opportunities to weaponize energy supply, or supply of grain, is something UK Courts should be involved with. Obviously, some don’t agree with me. I politely referred to the young and foolish. Others may have a different description. Nice to hear from them, though.

  4. But it’s ok for the UK to import HUGE quantities of Fracked US Gas to provide energy security to lots of consumers, but in the mean time WE COULD extract FRACKED GAS economically from our own resources! The Mozambique protesters ‘ argue that approval of the funding was unlawful because it failed to take into account the emissions resulting from burning the gas or how these emissions would affect globally-agreed climate goals.‘ but the UK consuming Fracked USA gas in a sea going tanker from the USA is NOT?! Emission intensive, and how we in the UK consume USA Fracked Gas would affect climate goals, but by consuming our own reserves of fracked gas, ‘WOULD’ in fact reduce climate targets!! Doh! Brains are really functioning the Mozambique ‘Four’! 🙄🙄

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