Court of Appeal rejects legal challenge over Mozambique gas project funding

UK government urged to end support for damaging gas development
  Published:  13 Jan 2023    |      2 minute read

The Court of Appeal has rejected Friends of the Earth’s legal challenge over the UK government’s decision to approve $1.15billion of financing for a mega gas project in Mozambique.

Friends of the Earth, which described the ruling as very disappointing, says its lawyers are now studying the judgment before deciding on next steps, including the possibility of an appeal.

Friends of the Earth had argued that the funding was incorrectly judged to be compatible with the Paris climate agreement and its goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

It has been estimated that the total emissions for the new gas field could total some 4.5bn tonnes of greenhouse gases over its lifetime - more than the combined annual emissions of all 27 EU countries – and these were not calculated as part of the government’s approval process or evaluated against global climate goals.

The gas project will not only fuel the climate crisis. The development of the Mozambique gas industry is believed to be a key factor fuelling an insurgency that has led to violence, deaths and displacement of almost 1 million refugees. Friends of the Earth Africa and Friends of the Earth Mozambique are demanding an end to fossil fuel developments on the continent and instead focus on renewables to deliver clean energy and prosperity.

Friends of the Earth’s international climate campaigner, Rachel Kennerley, said:

“This extremely disappointing judgment doesn’t alter our firm belief that the UK government should not be supporting the Mozambique gas project, or any fossil fuel project at home or abroad.

“The climate crisis is intensifying with record-breaking heat waves and devastating floods and droughts, and countries like Mozambique are at the forefront of these impacts.

“The UK government should be helping poorer nations develop their huge renewable energy potential, not backing a massive gas development that’s fuelling violence and instability and will inevitably intensify the climate emergency we are in.

“We urge the government to end its support for this development. Rishi Sunak wants the UK to be seen as a world leader in fighting the climate crisis, but support for the gas development in Mozambique, and new coal and oil extraction at home, is completely undermining this.”

Daniel Ribeiro, campaigner at Justice Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique), said:

“Today’s ruling is bad news for the people of Mozambique impacted by this project and everyone globally suffering climate impacts.

“It's time to end the UK government's bankrolling of destructive, colonial fossil fuel extractivism overseas and perpetuating decades of human rights and environmental abuses in countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis."

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. A Friends of the Earth briefing on UK funding of the Mozambique gas project is here.
  2. Friends of the Earth vs UK Export Finance: case documents are here.
  3. Info on Friends of the Earth Africa is here and on Friends of the Earth Mozambique is here.
  4. The Friends of the Earth legal team consists of: Jessica Simor KC, Prof. Zachary Douglas KC, Kate Cook, Anita Davies, Gayatri Sarathy, Leigh Day LLP and its own in-house legal specialists.