The British Court of Appeal will hear today, December 6, arguments from Friends of the Earth, a British environmental organisation, to challenge UK funding of a natural gas extraction project in Mozambique.
At issue are US$1.150 billion pledged by British export credit agency UK Export Finance (UKEF) to develop the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, offshore in the Rovuma basin, in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique.
The organisation argues that the funding was not properly assessed in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and that it contradicts the UK’s commitment to meet the Paris Climate Change Agreement to limit global warming.
“Not only did UKEF help fund the project, it also failed to assess all the emissions it would produce, misleading [UK] ministers about the scale of its impact. This is a complete failure of credible governance and morally unacceptable in a climate crisis,” Friends of the Earth’s chief legal officer, Will Rundle, charged in a statement.
Friends of the Earth has calculated that over its years of activity, the project will result in up to 4500 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.
But the organisation says the local population in Cabo Delgado has already begun to be affected, notably farmers and fishermen, and that more than a million people have been forced to flee in recent years due to violence and insecurity from terrorist attacks.
Area 1 of the project is under concession to a consortium led by French oil company Total, which had to suspend construction work on the project due to attacks by armed groups in Cabo Delgado province.
Valued at between 20 and 25 billion euros, Total’s gas extraction megaproject is the biggest private investment underway in Africa, backed by several international financial institutions and envisages the construction of industrial units and a new city between Palma and the Afungi peninsula.
Before construction was suspended, the first export of liquefied gas was scheduled for 2024.
A first lawsuit by Friends of the Earth in the High Court in London ended in March in a split decision between the panel of judges, so the appeal request was granted.
The Court of Appeal’s decision is not expected until early 2023.