By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) — An investment of $1.15 billion in a gas project in northern Mozambique is being challenged by Friends of the Earth which foresees a major increase in greenhouse gas emissions by up to 10 per cent by 2022.
That’s the equivalent of the combined annual emissions of all 27 EU member countries, according to FoE.
The decision to provide the finance package—one of the biggest ever offered to a foreign fossil fuel project by the UK Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs—is unlawful, the group maintains.
Mozambique is not only one of the poorest countries in the world, but also one of the most affected by the climate crisis and most vulnerable to its impacts. It is also in the middle of a violent Islamic State-led insurgency.
Under the contract, the $20 billion development will extract 43 million tonnes of liquid natural gas (LNG) per year for 32 years from offshore gas fields in Cabo Delgado and will create 4.3 billion tonnes of combusted emissions.
FoE, represented by the UK law firm Leigh Day and the law firm Matrix Chambers will argue primarily that the failure of UK’s export credit agency to quantify the emissions produced from the use of the liquid natural gas (LNG) meant the conclusion that financing the project was compatible with the Paris Agreement, was unlawful.
The project undermines Mozambique’s ability to meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, claims FoE.
“How can Boris Johnson expect the rest of the world to pull the plug on fossil fuels when his government is giving such enthusiastic support to a development that could have the same climate impact as the entire EU aviation sector?” asked Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth.
“The UK government should be supporting the building of a cleaner, safer future – not projects that will continue to fuel the climate emergency for many years to come,” Rundle added.
Last month, the UK government ended overseas fossil fuel subsidies, ruling out support for a $3.5 billion oil pipeline in East Africa.
“We believe the government acted unlawfully by failing to comply with its climate obligations, which is why we are taking legal action.
UK’s export finance office had been accused by activists of “rank hypocrisy” over its record on fossil fuel financing. They acknowledged that there were both environmental and reputational risks in providing funding.
Lawyers at Friends of the Earth recently claimed that the gas development has worsened conflict in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, where armed militants have killed an estimated 2,500 people and displaced almost 700,000 since 2017.
The construction stage of the project alone displaced more than 550 families from their land, destroyed the local fishing industry and attracted radicalized militants looking to cash in on the development, the lawyers said.
The US is also backing the $20 billion methane gas development. The US Export-Import Bank (Exim) has provided a $4.7bn loan to the project.
The government of Mozambique hopes the development will generate billions of dollars in revenue and catapult the country to middle-income status by the mid-2030s—a big gamble at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has hit gas demand. [IDN-InDepthNews – 13 December 2021]
Photo: Internally displaced persons from northern Mozambique seek protection from the violent clashes between the military and armed groups in the port city of Pemba (December 11, 2020). © Estacio Valoi
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