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Oil and gas emissions ?not relevant? to drilling permit

?It would not be practicable, in an assessment of the environmental effects of a project for the extraction of fossil fuels, for the decision maker to conduct a wide ranging examination into the effects, local or global, of the use of that fuel by the final consumer.? So concluded the written judgement from Scotland?s highest court in a case where environment group Greenpeace challenged the UK government?s decision to grant a permit to BP to drill the Vorlich Field, in the North Sea.

The government has said that it plans to introduce climate compatibility checks for new oil and gas exploration licences before next year.

Judges ruled that the government?s decision to grant a permit was lawful, despite the fact that it gave no consideration to the climate impact of burning the fossil fuels extracted, says Greenpeace. UK Executive Director John Sauven said: ?The government is celebrating a win for the fossil fuel industry after its lawyers argued in court that emissions from burning oil extracted by BP are not relevant when granting an oil permit.?

The judgement continues: ?The argument is, in any event, an academic one. It is not maintained that the exploitation of the Vorlich field would increase, or even maintain, the current level of consumption. Unless it did so, it is difficult to argue that it would have any material effect on climate change; even if it is possible to arrive at a figure for its contribution by arithmetical calculation relative to the production of oil and gas overall? The issue is essentially a political and not a legal one.?

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