Greenpeace Loses Supreme Court Case Against BP
Environmentalist group Greenpeace has lost its court case which challenged the UK government’s decision to grant a permit to BP to drill the Vorlich Field in the North Sea.
Greenpeace stated that judges in Scotland’s highest court ruled that the government’s decision to grant a permit was lawful. The organization claimed that “the government gave no consideration to the climate impact of burning the fossil fuels extracted” and added that it would launch an appeal before the Supreme Court.
“The government is celebrating a win for the fossil fuel industry after its lawyers argued in court that emissions from burning oil extracted by BP are ‘not relevant’ when granting an oil permit,” Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said.
In a statement on Thursday, Greenpeace said that judges concluded that it was not possible to assess emissions that result from burning oil and gas. The judges also stated that the UK is still reliant on oil and gas, referencing the current gas price crisis, and added that extracting oil and gas does not increase or maintain consumption of oil and gas.
Apart from that, the court claimed that it could not be argued that oil and gas has any material effect on climate change as well as that the matter is political, not legal.
“It would not be practicable, in an assessment of the environmental effects of a project for the extraction of fossil fuels, for the decision maker to conduct a wide-ranging examination into the effects, local or global, of the use of that fuel by the final consumer,” Lord Carloway, the Lord President, said in a written ruling.
The government has said that it plans to introduce climate compatibility checks for new licenses before next year.
“Although the appellants’ aspiration is for such extraction to cease, it does not appear to be contended that the UK economy is not still reliant in a number of different ways on the consumption of oil and gas. At present, a shortage of oil and gas supplies is a matter of public concern,” the Lord President added referencing recent political developments around the gas price crisis.
“The argument is, in any event, an academic one. It is not maintained that the exploitation of the Vorlich field would increase, or even maintain, the current level of consumption. Unless it did so, it is difficult to argue that it would have any material effect on climate change; even if it is possible to arrive at a figure for its contribution by arithmetical calculation relative to the production of oil and gas overall.”
“The Secretary of State’s submission that these are matters for decision at a relatively high level of Government, rather than either by the court or in relation to one oilfield project, is correct. The issue is essentially a political and not a legal one,” Lord Carloway concluded.
It is worth reminding that Greenpeace in January 2019 tried to stop BP from drilling on the Vorlich field by intercepting its chartered drilling rig Paul B. Loyd, Jr. some 80 miles off Scotland, forcing the rig to turn back. Several arrests were made as a result.
Drilling operations continued and the Vorlich field has been producing oil since November 2020. Vorlich hydrocarbons are processed through Ithaca’s FPF-1 floating production facility.
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