Sep 28, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, has been added as a party to a case filed by Scientist and University of Guyana lecturer, Dr. Troy Thomas, and Quadad DeFreitas over the impact of ExxonMobil’s carbon emission in the development of oil fields offshore Guyana.
The applicants, Dr. Thomas and DeFreitas, a young man from the South Rupununi, have brought the proceedings alleging that their constitutional rights to a safe and healthy environment have been contravened by the Guyana Government’s decision to enter into several petroleum agreements with Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) and its parent company, ExxonMobil Corp.
Under these agreements, the applicants contend that Esso will produce large quantities of petroleum which when burnt, would create large amounts of greenhouse gases which would in turn, cause climate change making Guyana’s environment unsafe and unhealthy.
The proceedings were brought against the Guyana Government which is represented by Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, SC.
However, Esso – as a party which had a very substantial interest in the subject of the proceedings and its outcome – filed an application to be added to the litigation in order to oppose the orders requested by Dr. Thomas and DeFreitas.
The Applicants, through their Counsel opposed Esso’s application as they contended that Esso’s presence before the Court was unnecessary. They did concede, nonetheless, that if Esso was to participate in limited scope, the Court had discretion to allow this. Justice Franklyn Holder heard arguments in the matter.
He ruled yesterday that Esso ought properly to be added as it had a material interest in the proceeding and its outcome.
Meanwhile, the case refers to the overwhelming scientific evidence of the devastating effect of greenhouse gas emissions, pointing out that oil and gas production has been adjourned to June, 2022, when it is expected to come for case management in the High Court.
In his application, Dr. Thomas is contending that Guyana is particularly vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels while ocean acidification threatens the Guyanese livelihoods that depend on healthy marine ecosystems.
According to Dr. Thomas: “Guyana is a carbon sink. The Guyanese people are not responsible for climate change, but we are already suffering the effects. Climate change, ocean acidification and rising sea level pose existential threats to the people and State of Guyana. As a scientist, I urge people to look at the evidence and to face reality.”
The case also cites Guyana’s international obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement in support of its claim for declarations that emissions from oil and gas production make the environment more harmful to health and wellbeing in violation of Article 149J of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to a healthy environment and requires the State to protect the environment for present and future generations.
Article 149J specifically states that: (1) everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to his or her health or well-being. (2) The State shall protect the environment, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures designed to – (a) prevent pollution and ecological degradation; (b) promote conservation; and (c) secure sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.
The legal team consists of Ms. Melinda Janki and Mr. Ronald Burch-Smith, with support from Richard Lord QC at Brick Court and Joshua Jackson of Cloisters in the UK for the applicants. The Attorney-General, Nandlall, appeared for the State with Mr. Chevy Devonish, State Counsel, and Mr. Andrew Pollard, SC, Edward Luckhoo, SC, and Ms. Eleanor Luckhoo appeared for Esso.
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