Britain's $1billion bet against the climate

Boris Johnson visits Scotland. 

Number 10
Taxpayers in the UK will be backing a massive liquified natural gas development in Mozambique to the tune of $1billion.

The UK government should be supporting the building of a cleaner, safer future. 

A $1 billion cheque for a massive liquified natural gas (LNG) development in Mozambique signed off by the UK government will now be challenged in court by the environmental charity Friends of the Earth.

A judicial review will examine the decision of UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK government export credit agency, approved by both the Secretary of State for International Trade and the Treasury, over its compliance with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The construction phase alone will increase the greenhouse gas emissions of Mozambique by up to 10 percent by 2022. There will be even larger emissions from the 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. 

Aviation

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.

Obligations

“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 and that the government 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.

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Friends of the Earth.

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