UK government to invest $1.5bn in controversial Mozambique gas project

A court ruling has found the mammoth liquified natural gas undertaking, led by France’s TotalEnergies, is compliant with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) has committed to deliver direct loans and bank guarantees required to design, build and operate the facility, which will cost $20bn overall. 

While a spokesperson for the French company behind the project highlighted the ‘range of social and economic benefits’ to Mozambique offered by the development, and claimed the company ‘supports the goals’ of the historic 2015 climate accord, a judge presiding over a legal challenge filed by Friends of the Earth made it clear the Paris agreement does not ‘there was no requirement’ to be ‘certain the decision [to build the facility] complied with [Paris] obligations’, going on to say the African project was still ‘tenable’ with British commitments under the accord.

This is despite the fact that LNG still produces carbon dioxide and methane emissions, both of which contribute to air pollution and global warming, and is a fossil fuel. However, it is void of soot, dust, particulate matter, and emits levels of sulphur dioxide, mercury and other compounds considered harmful to our atmosphere considered insignificant by experts. Around 40% less CO2  finds its way into the atmosphere with this form of gas compared with coal, and 30% less than oil. As such, it is considered the far cleaner than comparable energy sources. 

Nevertheless, the ruling that this development is legal has been described by Friends of the Earth as ‘disappointing’, with critics suggesting this is another example of a wealthy nation actively investing in fossil fuels in poorer parts of the world, while talking up efforts to reach net zero domestically. 

‘Today’s ruling is bad news for the people of Mozambique impacted by this project and everyone globally suffering climate impacts,’ said Daniel Ribeiro, campaigner at Justice Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique). ‘It’s time to end the UK government’s bankrolling of destructive colonial fossil fuel extractivism overseas and perpetuating decades of human rights and environmental abuses in countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis.’ 

Air Quality News recently published an investigation into the disproportionate impact of air pollution on minorities, disadvantaged communities and marginalised demographics. Meanwhile, earlier this month a new legal challenge was launched against the development of a coal mine in Cumbria, which represents more mounting evidence the UK is not committed to ending fossil fuel use, despite a recent Select Committee statement that we must move away from polluting energy sources well before the proposed date of 2050.




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