Case to halt ExxonMobil’s operations put off until June 2022
- Applicants wanted to prevent the oil-giant from participating fully
The constitutional climate case, which challenges fossil fuel production in Guyana on the grounds that it exacerbates global warming and threatens human rights, was on Monday adjourned to June 2022.
During Monday’s hearing, against the pleadings of Troy Thomas and Quaddad De Freitas, Justice Franklin Holder added ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited, as a respondent in the case.
The applicants had alleged that their constitutional rights to a safe and healthy environment have been contravened by the Guyana Government’s entering into several petroleum agreements with Esso and its parent ExxonMobil.
The Applicants allege that under these agreements, 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.
But 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 as a party in order to oppose the making of the orders requested by the Applicants.
The Applicants, through their Counsel, opposed Esso’s application as they contended that Esso’s presence before the Court was unnecessary as their complaints could be answered by the State alone.
They did admit that if Esso was allowed to participate in more limited scope (not to be able to lead evidence or cross-examine witnesses) the Court had a discretion to allow this.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Justice Holder ruled that Esso ought to be properly added as a party and allowed to participate fully as it had a material interest in the proceeding and its outcome.
He then fixed timelines for documents to be filed by the respective parties in support of their cases, and for further steps to be taken in the matter.
The matter is now adjourned to June 2022 for case management in the High Court.
The Attorney-General the Hon. Anil Nandlall, SC, appeared for the State with Mr. C. Devonish State Counsel. Mr. Andrew M.F. Pollard, SC, Edward A. Luckhoo, SC, and Ms. Eleanor Luckhoo appeared for Esso. Mr. Ronald Burch-Smith appeared with Ms. Melinda Janki for the Applicants.
The case, before Guyana’s High Court, claims that Guyana’s approval of a massive, ExxonMobil-led oil and gas buildout off the country’s coast violates the government’s legal duty to protect the rights to a healthy environment, sustainable development, and the rights of future generations.
Guyana is ExxonMobil’s largest oil development outside of the Permian Basin.