Sarah Finch challenged a local permit in the Supreme Court allowing oil drilling in Horsehill, UK. She questioned its legality and expressed concerns about its impact on the climate. This case had significant implications for future fossil fuel projects in the country. Ms. Finch focused on “downstream emissions,” the greenhouse gases released when the oil is used. She believes these emissions could reach 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 20 years. The planning authorities argue they only need to consider the drilling’s climate impact. However, Ms. Finch compares this to claiming a low-calorie chocolate cake as long as it remains uneaten. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, contribute to the phenomenon of global warming by trapping heat within the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Surrey County Council says their planning decision followed the rules. Ms. Finch’s challenge in the High Court was initially dismissed, but a judge in the Court of Appeals ruled in her favor. Lawyers representing Friends of the Earth draw attention to the fact that carbon emissions resulting from these projects have been underestimated. Developers are concerned that a thorough assessment of carbon impacts, including emissions from using the oil, could result in reconsideration of the project’s permission. This case is important because the UK government has committed to achieving zero net carbon emissions by 2050. Additionally, there is growing controversy surrounding new fossil fuel projects in the country.