UK: Environmentalists score huge win over Big Oil

LONDON: A recent ruling by the United Kingdom (UK) Supreme Court led to a landmark win for environmentalists over oil drilling projects in the country on Thursday.

The cases revolved around oil development near Gatwick Airport, where planning authorities failed to assess the climate impact of emissions from burning the extracted oil. The need to consider greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels in planning decisions is critical to mitigate warming up of the planet.

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In the UK country of Surrey, the local government had previously approved the Horse Hill Developments to expand an oil well site.

Environmental group Greenpeace UK intervened in the case. The group stated that emissions from burning fossil fuels must be included in environmental assessments for drilling licenses.

The UK Supreme Court ruled 3-2 that the Surrey council had illegally granted permission without adequately considering emissions resulting from the combustion of the fossil fuel.

The court’s recognition of scope 3 three emissions hints at a shift towards more stringent environmental evaluations in planning decisions.

Scope three emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions from activities outside an organisation’s control, including those generated when end-users burn fossil fuels like oil, gas, or coal. They are important for assessing total environmental impact and guiding sustainability efforts.

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The decision could set a precedent affecting future oil, gas, and coal projects across the UK, the environmental campaigners stated.

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