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UK Supreme Court rules oil projects must consider full climate impacts

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Britain’s Supreme Court has ruled that local councils and planning panels must consider the full environmental impact when deciding whether to approve new fossil fuel projects, a ruling that could have far-reaching consequences and was hailed by climate campaigners as a major victory in the fight against climate change.

In particular, the ruling will make it harder for the UK to proceed with plans to develop large offshore oil fields in the North Sea, including Rosebank, one of the country’s largest undeveloped oil fields. Rosebank, located off the coast of Scotland, contains an estimated 300 million barrels of recoverable oil.

“This is of huge significance not just for the UK but for the whole world,” Annalisa Savaresi, a professor of climate change law at the University of Stirling in Scotland, said of the UK Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday. “It’s not the end of oil, but it’s definitely an important procedural step that should have been taken long ago.”

Previously, UK councils and planning groups only had to consider global warming emissions from their own operations. Now they must also estimate and disclose emissions generated by their suppliers or consumers, such as those from refining oil or burning it as fuel. These emissions are generated in the so-called “value chain” of companies and make up the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil production.

The case is one of a growing number of cases related to climate change. International Tribunalnational courts and US StatesIn January, The Norwegian court ruled Three licences issued by the government to develop new oil and gas fields were invalid because they had not been adequately assessed for environmental impact. In April this year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Switzerland misses target to cut carbon emissions And action must be taken to address this shortcoming.

The UK ruling The Supreme Court ruled by a three-to-two vote.involving a case brought by an environmentalist against Surrey County Council, southwest of London, who argued that proposals for new oil wells needed to consider the impact of emissions from the extraction of the oil. Writing for the majority, Justice George Leggatt wrote that the burning of oil at the site was “inevitable” and therefore needed to be considered.

Stephen Sanderson, chief executive of UK Oil & Gas, a part-owner of the Surrey project, said on Thursday the decision was “puzzling” but added that the company would work with local planning authorities on the requested changes.

Jorge Viñales, professor of law and environmental policy at the University of Cambridge, said the ruling was particularly significant even abroad because the UK Supreme Court is not known as an aggressive court.

Nikki Reisch, director of climate and energy at the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington, agreed that the dynamic “gives more weight to the conclusions that are being drawn.”

In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission published A watered-down proposal In March, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that companies are not required to disclose the emissions generated by their suppliers or consumers. Companies have argued that disclosing the full climate impact of their projects is too complex and costly. But Ms. Reisch said Thursday’s ruling added weight to the argument that U.S. agencies should also consider the full life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions.

The use of fossil fuels exacerbates climate disasters. Losses are being suffered all over the worldPeople face scorching heat, floods and fires.

In the past two months alone, dozens of cities in Mexico have broken heat records, killing more than 100 people. Greece is preparing for wildfires. Temperatures in India hit a high of 126 degrees FahrenheitIn the United States, nearly 100 million people face Hot temperatures This situation is expected to continue throughout the weekend.

The International Energy Agency, the world’s leading energy agency, said that in 2021, oil and gas exploration projects Need to stop Global warming will not be brought under control until 2050, but countries and oil companies around the world continue to pursue this goal.

In the UK, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has encouraged more oil and gas licenses in the North Sea and Conservatives scaled back climate pledges Ahead of the general election scheduled for July 4.

The opposition Labour Party, which is expected to win the most seats in the parliamentary election, is also expected to win the most seats in the parliamentary election. Cutting back on its ambitious climate policy And swear No revocation of existing oil and gas project licenses.

The British government approved the development of Rosebank last year, which will boost the UK’s oil and gas industry, generate an estimated 8.1 billion pounds ($10.2 billion) in direct investment and create about 1,600 jobs during the construction phase. Climate activists have launched a legal challenge to the government’s plans, arguing that developing Rosebank violates the UK’s climate commitments.

Thomas Hale, a professor who studies environmental issues at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, said courts reviewing high-profile cases such as Rosebank “will now have to take this into account, and it’s a big change for them”.

Dr Hale added that as more courts and governments across Europe declared that comprehensive emissions had to be considered, the narrower approach taken by oil companies – excluding emissions from the products they sell from their calculations – looked less viable.

“For investors, this is a big issue,” Dr. Hale said. “If you think about the regulatory pressure a company might face, it’s another warning sign that the practices they’re taking are not legally sustainable.”

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