(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s decision to help finance a $20 billion gas project in Mozambique faces a legal challenge by environment activists who claim it clashes with the U.K.’s global commitments to fight climate change. 

Friends of the Earth asked London’s High Court to overturn approval for government funding it claims should never have been considered compliant with the Paris Agreement. 

U.K. Export Finance, a government agency, pledged to provide up to $1.15 billion in loans and guarantees to TotalEnergies EP Mozambique’s $20 billion liquefied natural gas project in northern Mozambique. The plan was approved by the Treasury in 2020. 

The group argued the approval was made without proper assessment of the project’s climate impacts against the Paris treaty’s terms and its obligation to help other countries meet goals. It also pointed to the U.K. government’s March 2021 decision to end direct investment in destructive fossil fuel projects. 

Lawyers for the U.K. government said that the decision was taken “following the highest exercise of judgment at the highest level of government,” in legal filings prepared for the hearing. 

The U.K. argued that the climate change impact was one of several public interest issues considered, including benefit to British businesses and “transformational economic benefits” to Mozambique. 

“We remain confident that U.K. Export Finance follows robust and internationally recognized due diligence before providing any support for overseas projects,” a government spokesperson added. 

Lawyers for TotalEnergies EP Mozambique said that Friends of the Earth does not mention the “transformative benefits of the project” and are challenging the project itself, not just the export support, in legal filings. 

A spokesperson for TotalEnergies SE said it could not comment on proceedings but said there was a “strong support of the Mozambican government.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.