British export agencies lending money to environmentally damaging overseas projects may find themselves sued by environmental organisations in the future.
Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Boulder city council, Colorado, filed a lawsuit last month suing two US government agencies for contributing to global warming. If successful, the case may set a precedent for campaigning environmental groups around the world, including Britain.
The suit was filed on behalf of Colorado citizens and campaigners who believe they are victims of global warming.
It was filed against two US government agencies - the Export Import Bank (ExIm) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which finance overseas projects deemed too risky for commercial banks.
The legal action hinges on the US National Environmental Policy Act which requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impact of projects and decisions.
It is alleged that OPIC and ExIm acted illegally by financing oil fields, pipelines and coal-fired power plants without assessing their impact on the US environment as required under the act.