Rishi Sunak is under increasing pressure regarding his proposal to fully exploit the resources of the North Sea oil industry.
This week, Rishi Sunak is facing more criticism for his proposal to increase oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. The Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill will be discussed in the House of Commons on Monday and has already sparked numerous demonstrations, leading to the resignation of Chris Skidmore, a former energy minister from the Conservative party.
The proposed legislation intends to increase the extraction of fossil fuels by creating a new system where licenses for North Sea oil and gas ventures will be granted on a yearly basis.
Environmental organizations and experts are voicing their disapproval. UpLift, a group advocating for renewable energy, highlighted that the proposed legislation, touted by the government as a way to optimize the UK’s gas reserves, would only lead to a 2% increase in North Sea gas production. According to their analysis, the majority of gas demand will still have to be met by already-operating North Sea fields.
The text suggests that a single windfarm producing 1.3 gigawatts of energy would be sufficient to compensate for the potential loss of gas due to the bill not issuing any new licenses.
According to Tessa Khan, executive director of UpLift, Sunak, similar to his predecessor Liz Truss, is fixated on oil and gas while neglecting renewable energy and insulation. This approach not only jeopardizes UK energy security but also leads to higher bills, leaving people in the country colder and financially strained.
Bob Ward, the policy director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, supported this point. He stated that investing in new developments in the North Sea will not have a significant impact on energy bills, as they have high operating costs and could hinder efforts to combat climate change.
In comparison, according to Ward, supporting renewable energy in Britain and transitioning to electric-powered economy through the use of heat pumps and electric vehicles would decrease reliance on unreliable and costly fossil fuels.
A recent study conducted by a team of prominent economists, including Nicholas Stern, condemns the government for permitting excessive funds to be channeled into non-sustainable economies. These include the establishment of new oil and gas reserves, as well as the building of energy-inefficient and climate-vulnerable homes and offices.
The statement suggests that the UK should focus on investing in the global shift towards a more efficient, resilient, and inclusive economy in order to improve productivity and output growth. This will allow the UK to gain a competitive edge in the innovative markets of the 21st century.
These criticisms follow a letter from the all-party parliamentary group for climate change which says: “Just last month, as the UK’s second warmest year on record concluded, the UK joined other countries in signing the UAE consensus at Cop28 and thus pledged to transition way from fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, this legislation contradicts the aforementioned agreement. Rather than upholding the commitments we made to our allies and partners at Cop28, this bill only serves to diminish the UK’s credibility as a global leader in addressing climate change.
Skidmore stated prior to his resignation that he could not support legislation that actively encourages the extraction of new oil and gas. He also expressed concern that such legislation would demonstrate the UK’s retreat from its climate obligations.