Greenpeace lost a case against the U.K. government and BP in Scotland's highest civil court, allowing BP to continue offshore drilling operations at the Vorlich site off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. Drilling began at the site, located in the North Sea, in late 2020 at a rate of 20,000 barrels per day. The permit approved a total of 30 million barrels of oil (Bloomberg).

Greenpeace had argued that emissions from oil consumption by the end user should be considered in granting licenses, not just the smaller emissions output from oil extraction. In 2020, BP’s operations, including powering oilfields, produced 54 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, while the use of its products produced 328 million tons of CO2 equivalent (Reuters). The court ruled that the end-use of oil and the resulting climate impacts should not affect the permitting process. Greenpeace further argued there were errors during the consultation process prior to the permit being granted in 2018, but the court responded that Greenpeace could have participated in the consultation process. Judges also pointed to the United Kingdom’s need for various fuel sources during the current energy crisis. The U.K. government stated they are working to decrease fossil fuel demand, but that it will take time.

Despite the court ruling, Greenpeace still hopes to halt the operations, and is planning to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. It said this was the first time an offshore oil permit was challenged, and if the case had won, it would have affected outcomes at other offshore drilling sites (BBC).