(Reuters) – A British Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a case brought by climate activists against the country's oil and gas regulator OGA, rejecting their argument that OGA's actions constitute a kind of illegal subsidy of the fossil fuel sector.
The decision, seen by Reuters, is a setback for climate activists who are increasingly turning to the courts to force a reduction in oil and gas production to control global warming. In particular, activists won a landmark Dutch case in May that required Shell to deepen its emission reductions. , and noted in some years that if oil and gas prices were low, the government would actually return money to producers rather than take advantage of tax revenues.
This, they say, is in conflict with both the government's long-standing policy of "maximizing the economic recovery" of oil and gas in the British North Sea, which means that oil and gas extraction there should be commercially meaningful, and with Britain's 2050 net zero emission target.
"I reject the claim that the strategy is illegal because the definition of 'economically recoverable' was irrational. It follows that the plaintiffs' claims fail and are rejected," Judge Sara Cockerill said in the decision document. million (337 million USD) from oil and gas production 2020-21, a decrease of 71% compared to the previous year, according to official data, due to a fall in oil and gas prices during the pandemic.
In a joint statement , plaintiffs Mikaela Loach, Kairin van Sweeden and Jeremy Cox said they would decide whether to appeal in the next few days.
"No matter what we decide, the billions that the British government has wasted on supporting oil and gas. "The industry has finally been announced. There is no going back. The fight to stop the flow of public money to oil and gas companies has just begun," they said.
British Energy and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and the OGA said they welcomed the ruling.