Environmental organizations launch legal proceedings against the Rosebank North Sea oil development.
Environmental activists have initiated two distinct legal actions against the government’s proposal to develop a large-scale oilfield in the North Sea.
According to Greenpeace and Uplift, moving forward with the Rosebank development, which is the largest untapped oilfield in the UK, goes against the country’s legally binding climate obligations. They claim that the initial analysis conducted by ministers failed to consider the harmful effects of burning oil from this location.
Executive director of Uplift, Tessa Khan, stated that if the UK moves forward with the Rosebank project, it will jeopardize their efforts to remain within safe climate boundaries. She emphasized that the situation is straightforward and challenged the government to present evidence in court if they disagree.
In September, the project received approval and has the capability to yield 500 million barrels of oil over its lifespan. When this oil is burned, it would release the same amount of carbon dioxide as operating 56 coal-fired power plants for a year.
The project has encountered strong opposition, with numerous climate scientists and academics as well as over 200 organizations – ranging from the Women’s Institute to Oxfam – uniting with tens of thousands of individuals throughout the UK to protest against it.
This goes against the advice of scientists regarding the effect of this development on the climate, and goes against the repeated statements from the International Energy Agency that new exploration of oil and gas should not occur if we want to keep global heating within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
According to Areeba Hamid, the co-executive director of Greenpeace UK, the development of Rosebank was falsely approved under the belief that it aligns with the UK’s legally binding climate commitments. However, Hamid believes this to be a falsehood.
The government intentionally ignored the emissions that will result from burning 500 million barrels of oil in their approval of development. This is similar to constructing a bomb and declaring it harmless as long as it remains undetonated.
Advocates argue that British citizens will bear the majority of expenses for the field’s development, whereas Rosebank’s proprietors are anticipated to receive approximately £3 billion in tax incentives. Furthermore, they assert that the initiative will not reduce household energy costs, as the oil sold on the global market would have no significant impact on the prices paid by UK residents.
A government representative dismissed the allegations and stated that they would strongly protect themselves against any legal disputes.
The United Kingdom is at the forefront of achieving net zero, reducing emissions at a faster rate than any other major economy. According to the independent Climate Change Committee, we will still require the use of oil and gas in our energy mix.
We will continue to support the UK’s oil and gas sector, which is crucial for our energy stability, sustains up to 200,000 jobs, and is expected to generate approximately £50bn in tax income in the next five years. This will assist in funding our shift towards achieving net zero emissions.
According to a report released in June, the Climate Change Committee stated that while the UK will still require some oil and gas until it reaches net zero emissions, this alone does not justify the development of new North Sea fields.
Both Greenpeace and Uplift have requested a judicial review from the court of session in Edinburgh regarding the decision made by the current energy secretary, Claire Coutinho, and the North Sea Transition Authority.
The court is anticipated to make a decision on whether to allow a complete trial of the case in the beginning of next year.