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Eco activists launch court challenge against UK government

Greenpeace wants to put a freeze on new oil and gas drilling, as fuel prices rise and temperatures drop

Greenpeace has asked Britain’s High Court to review the government’s decision to grant 130 new oil and gas drilling licenses in the North Sea, the Financial Times reported on Monday. However, the government claims that such licenses are essential to maintain the UK’s “energy security.”

The environmental group is claiming that the government “failed in its legal duty to properly assess [the licenses’] climate impact” when it announced in October that it would award 130 drilling permits, Greenpeace campaigner Philip Evans told the newspaper. 

Along with two other climate groups, Friends of the Earth and Uplift, Greenpeace has also written to Business Secretary Grant Shapps, urging him to cancel the “unlawful” licenses. The activists argue that further drilling in the North Sea clashes with the government’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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The government paused the granting of new drilling licenses in 2019, citing potential conflict with the UK’s “wider climate objectives.” However, a new licensing round was announced in October, with regulators citing the need to do “anything we can” to bolster domestic energy production after Britain voluntarily cut itself off from Russian fossil fuels earlier this year.

Regarding Greenpeace’s court challenge, the government said that “while we cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings, it’s vital we continue to maintain our energy security, by boosting our homegrown energy supply and strengthening our domestic resilience.”

Meanwhile, as temperatures in Britain dropped below freezing over the weekend, the day-ahead cost per megawatt-hour of electricity hit a record high of £675 ($828) on Monday, The Guardian reported. According to government figures, the cost of home heating oil is currently nearly twice as expensive as it was at the beginning of last winter, and the End Fuel Poverty Coalition estimates that 16.4 million people in the UK will be unable to afford heating over the season.

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December 12, 2022 at 09:46PM
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