Friends of the Earth given permission to take UK government to court over Mozambique gas mega project

The UK government should be supporting the building of a cleaner, safer future – not projects that will continue to fuel the climate emergency for many years to come
  Published:  22 Apr 2021    |      2 minute read

Friends of the Earth has been given permission to go to court to challenge the UK government’s controversial decision to provide huge financial support to a massive liquified natural gas (LNG) development in Mozambique.

The Judicial Review will examine the decision of UK Export Finance (UKEF), approved by both the Secretary of State for International Trade and the Treasury, over its compliance with the Paris Agreement on climate change. UKEF is the UK’s export credit agency.

Under the decision around $1 billion of UK taxpayer money has been provided to help finance the project

The construction phase alone will increase the greenhouse gas emissions of Mozambique by up to 10% by 2022. There will be even larger emissions from the end use/burning of the gas, estimated to be around 116MtCO2e per year: equivalent to the total emissions from the aviation sector for all EU member states combined. Yet these emissions have not been taken into account.

To make matters worse, communities along Mozambique’s gas rich coast are already losing their homes, farmland and fisheries to make way for this damaging development. The development of the gas industry is believed to be a key factor fuelling an insurgency that has led to violence, deaths and further displacement.

A full hearing is expected to take place later this year.

Will Rundle, Head of Legal at Friends of the Earth, said:

“We’re delighted the High Court has given us permission to challenge the UK government’s reckless decision to provide huge financial support to a climate-wrecking gas project in Mozambique.

“How can Boris Johnson expect the rest of the world to pull the plug on fossil fuels when his government is giving such enthusiastic support to a development that could have the same climate impact as the entire EU aviation sector.

“The UK government should be supporting the building of a cleaner, safer future – not projects that will continue to fuel the climate emergency for many years to come.”

The grounds of Friends of the Earth’s challenge are that

  • the decision was made on the incorrect basis that the project was consistent with the UK and/or Mozambique’s commitments under the Paris Agreement;
  • the defendants failed to consider essential issues or carry out the necessary analysis to properly determine if supporting the project aligned with the UK’s and Mozambique’s obligations under the Paris Agreement.

Notes :

  1. Read the Friends of the Earth briefing on the Mozambique gas plant legal challenge.
  2. The Friends of the Earth legal team consists of: Jessica Simor QC, Kate Cook, Anita Davies (all of Matrix Chambers), Leigh Day LLP and its in-house legal specialists.