Friends of the Earth sues Britain over Mozambique LNG project

(Reuters, London, 7 December 2021) – A legal challenge by Friends of the Earth against the British government will be heard on Tuesday in the High Court seeking to block a $1.15 billion financing for a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in Mozambique, the environmental activist group said on Tuesday. Britain’s export credit agency UK Export Finance (UKEF) has committed to provide up to $1.15 billion of direct loans and guarantees to banks to support the design, build and operation of the $20 billion LNG project led by French energy company TotalEnergies. Friends of the Earth said in a statement the project was incorrectly judged to be compatible with the Paris climate agreement, without proper assessment of the development’s climate impacts. A recent report by Friends of the Earth estimated that the project could emit up to 4.5 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases over its lifetime. That is more than the combined annual emissions of all 27 EU countries, according to the authors of the report. The money – a combination of loans and guarantees – comes from the government’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF). At an advanced point in the negotiations, UKEF “felt that not agreeing to the loan would be embarrassing to the United Kingdom given its role in the African Development Bank”, FOEUK lawyer Simor told the court. The African Development Bank is co-financing the project, which is led by oil company Total. 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.