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UK high court issues landmark ruling regarding dirty energy project approval: 'This is hugely significant, not just in the UK but in the world'

"It's not the end of oil, but it's definitely an important procedural step that has been long overdue."

"It's not the end of oil, but it's definitely an important procedural step that has been long overdue."

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Britain's highest court has "fuelled" debate with a landmark ruling requiring thorough environmental checks on new oil projects, sparking global interest in its implications.

As reported by The New York Times, the court ruled that local councils and planning groups must now consider the full environmental impact of projects involving "dirty energy" before approving them. This ruling is seen as a major step in addressing environmental and human health concerns regarding polluting fuels, and it has been praised by activists.

The ruling will particularly affect plans to develop large offshore oil fields in the North Sea, including Rosebank, which NYT names one of Britain's largest undeveloped oil fields. Located off Scotland's coast, Rosebank is estimated to hold around 300 million barrels of oil.

Experts say this decision is important for global efforts to protect the environment.

"This is hugely significant, not just in the U.K. but in the world," Annalisa Savaresi, a climate change law professor at the University of Stirling in Scotland, told the Times. "It's not the end of oil, but it's definitely an important procedural step that has been long overdue."

Previously, local councils in Britain only had to think about their own pollution. Now, they must also estimate and disclose pollution from suppliers and consumers throughout the entire process, from extraction to final use. This change ensures a more thorough consideration of the project's impact on the environment.

Similar efforts are underway in the United States, where more than 30 lawsuits against the oil industry have been filed — one lawsuit against ExxonMobil is expected to go to trial in 2025. Some experts believe oil companies should even be charged with "climate homicide" for deceiving the public and contributing to millions of deaths. 

While some in the oil and gas industry have expressed concerns about the U.K. high court's decision, others see it as a necessary step to address environmental impacts more comprehensively. 

The decision comes as climate-related disasters, such as heat waves, wildfires, and floods, are becoming more frequent globally. These events highlight the urgent need to reduce reliance on polluting fuels and mitigate their environmental impact.

This ruling represents a pivotal step in addressing climate issues by mandating councils to fully assess the environmental impact of oil and gas projects, potentially setting a global precedent and highlighting the importance of sustainable planning and decision-making.

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