Press release | Feb. 27, 2020

Following Heathrow decision UK must now ensure all projects aligned with Paris Climate Agreement

27th February 2020, London – The decision by the UK’s Court of Appeal today to rule Heathrow expansion as unlawful means the Government must now reassess all projects and legislation to ensure they are in line with the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees C. 

The Court of Appeal ruled that Heathrow expansion fails to comply with the Government’s commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement.  Another major contravention is the UK’s policy on oil and gas. Emissions from the 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in already-operating fields will exceed the UK’s share of emissions in relation to Paris Agreement, whilst the Government has plans to extract a further 14.3 billion barrels.

As part of its 2020 budget, due to be published on 11th March, the Government must now examine all activity to ensure it is lawful, as per the Paris Agreement. This includes:

  • Revoking the “Maximising Economic Recovery” legislation that requires the extraction of as much oil and gas as economically possible, and replacing with legislation that limits oil and gas extraction to levels aligned with the Paris Agreement
  • Stop any new licenses for the exploration for new oil and gas fields
  • End the huge subsidies offered to oil and gas companies, that allows these companies to continue to drill for oil and gas when it would otherwise make no economic sense
  • Stop all UK public money being used to fund all fossil fuel projects abroad, not just coal, including through UK Export Finance

Stuart McWilliam, Climate Campaign Lead at Global Witness, said:

“We welcome the decision of the Court of Appeals to rule Heathrow expansion unlawful and pay tribute to the campaigners who made this possible. This has much wider repercussions and should be a strong signal to the Government that it cannot simply trample all over the Paris Agreement whilst paying lip-service to it.”

“Heathrow is not the only project that contravenes the vital Paris Agreement. The Government must now examine all other activity, in particular its support for the oil and gas industry by itself would be responsible for the UK exceeding the Paris emissions targets.”

“This is a year in which the UK hosts the Conference of Parties, the most important global climate meeting. We’ve consistently called on the Government to put its money where its mouth is on being a climate leader. Today’s ruling means they can no longer simply ignore their obligations to keeping our planet alive.”

This month Global Witness, along with Friends of the Earth Scotland, Greenpeace and Platform made a submission to the Treasury ahead of the budget, outlining how the UK can meet its Paris obligations. This submission is available for journalists on request.  



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