Environmental Law and Climate Justice >

Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Production

Share This Page

Email This Page

In the international arena, members have been instructed to represent 6 Portuguese youth applicants who filed a multi-state climate change complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, Duarte Agostinho and Others v Austria and 32 other Member States. The youth applicants argued that their rights protected by Articles 2, 3, 8, 14 and Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights are being violated because of the states' individual and collective failure to take appropriate steps to tackle climate change. This case has been widely reported. 

Marc Willers KC is instructed as one of the team of advocates representing the applicants in the Swiss Senior Women’s climate change case, the first-ever climate change case of its kind before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, heard in March 2023 – see a summary of the case. 

Members were also instructed as lead Counsel to represent CAN-Europe in their application to intervene in the People’s Climate Case which was considered by the Court of Justice of the European Union. 

In the UK, members have been instructed to challenge the government’s climate change strategy and policy, its decisions to permit fracking operations and the decisions of local authorities to grant permission for fossil fuel production on climate change grounds. 

Tim Baldwin, Abigail Holt and Paul Clark advised the “Zero Hour” Campaign, on the Climate and Ecology Bill which is currently before the UK Parliament. The overarching objective of the Act will be to try to ensure that the UK Central Government in collaboration with devolved Governments to take real and effective steps at a national level to address climate change and urgently set targets to keep the UK within the Paris Agreement 1.5° C target. The aim is to create a framework for a detailed strategy to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving the climate emergency. Also, to reverse biodiversity loss in the UK.  

The preamble to the Bill summaries its objectives as requiring: “the Secretary of State to achieve climate and nature targets for the United Kingdom; to give the Secretary of State a duty to implement a strategy to achieve those targets; to establish a Climate and Nature Assembly to advise the Secretary of State in creating that strategy; to give duties to the Committee on Climate Change and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee regarding the strategy and targets; and for connected purposes.”

Recent notable cases and news

Notable Cases


Aghaji and Garforth v Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (CO/1097/2022) 
Successful judicial review challenge of the government’s Net Zero Strategy. The government conceded that the NZS was unlawful in circumstances where it had failed to comply with sections 13 and 14 of the Climate Change Act 2008. 

Finch v Surrey County Council and Horse Hill Developments Ltd (with Friends of the Earth Ltd intervening) (2022) PTSR 958 
Appeal against the decision of Holgate J to refuse the claimant’s judicial review challenge of SCC’s decision to grant planning permission for oil production at the Horse Hill site for 25 years. The main issue in the appeal concerned the adequacy of the environmental impact assessment (“EIA”) and focused on the requirement to include within the EIA an assessment of the significant indirect effects of the development on the climate and an assessment of those GHG emissions (known as “scope 3 emissions”). Press Coverage: The IndependentFinancial Times.

Thornton v Oil and Gas Authority and Third Energy UK Gas Limited (2020) EWHC 2615 (Admin)  
Judicial review challenge of the decision of the Oil and Gas Authority to approve the sale by Barclays of Third Energy (a fracking company) to York Energy (a newly incorporated affiliate of a Caymans company (Alpha Energy) with no history of operating in the UK) given the risk that the purchasing company might not pay for the decommissioning costs associated with the operation.  

Frackman v SSCLG and Cuadrilla [2018] EWCA Civ 9 
Challenge to the decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to grant Cuadrilla planning permission for fracking operations at a site in Lancashire.

Andrews v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (2018) 
Challenge brought by the Mayor of Malton against the government’s decision to issue a written ministerial statement (WMS) requiring local authorities to ‘recognise’ the statutory definition of fracking set out in the Infrastructure Act 2015. This challenge aimed to prevent fracking operations (which use slightly less fluid than the statutory threshold) being granted planning permission in areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks, such as the North York Moors.

Contact team

We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards.

+ View more awards