UK court to hear Greenpeace challenge to oil, gas licensing round

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s High Court is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to grant Greenpeace permission to proceed with a challenge to the country’s last oil and gas licensing round on climate grounds, the activist group said on Monday.

Last year Britain held its first oil and gas exploration licensing round since 2019, with the government saying it is looking to boost domestic hydrocarbon output as Europe weans itself off Russian fuel and after energy prices spiked.

Greenpeace says the government and the oil and gas regulator NSTA should take into account the emissions from burning the oil and gas produced as a result of the licensing round, rather than merely the emissions from the extraction process.

Typically, the greenhouse gases released from combustion, known as Scope 3, make up for about 90% of hydrocarbon emissions.

“We’ve had warning after warning that there must be no new oil, and now time is running out. Yet the government continues to ignore the experts, approving new oil and gas without even bothering to check the full climate impact,” said Philip Evans, Greenpeace UK’s climate campaigner.

A previous case brought by Greenpeace about a BP offshore oilfield based on a similar argument did not succeed in a Scottish court in 2021.

Two other cases brought on Scope 3 emissions grounds against a Shell gas field in the North Sea and onshore oilfield in England are still awaiting rulings over the coming months.

An NSTA spokesperson said it would not comment on ongoing legal issues.

A government spokesperson pointed to the importance of energy security, adding that despite significant investment in renewable and nuclear projects, “the transition to non-fossil forms of energy cannot happen overnight.”

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Susan Fenton)