Climate campaigners are furious that the Prime Minister is ‘doing the bidding’ of the oil industry after he re-affirmed that the UK Government will issue over 100 new licences for oil and gas exploration this Autumn.

Rishi Sunak also said that the Acorn project was chosen as the third of four carbon capture and storage clusters in the UK. Climate campaigners regard carbon capture and storage (CCS) as an attempt to ‘greenwash’ the oil industry and pointed to the long history of failure of the technology.

Campaigners say that instead of giving more public money to oil firms it should be invested in climate solution that work today and can improve people’s lives such as public transport and home insulation.

Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaign Mary Church said:

“Burning oil and gas is driving extreme weather and killing people on every continent yet Rishi Sunak is gleefully encouraging the arsonists to go and put more fuel on the fire.

“By ignoring the huge harm caused by fossil fuel company greed and doing bidding of the industry, the UK Government is blatantly in denial about climate breakdown.

“By committing to future licensing rounds on the same day, it’s clear to see that carbon capture is little more than a greenwashing tactic by big oil to try and keep their climate-wrecking industry in business.

“CCS has a long history of over-promising and under-delivering yet both the Scottish and UK Governments have fallen for the snake oil salesmen rather than face reality that the only solution to the climate crisis is a fast and fair phase out of oil and gas.

“Funding for the Acorn project is yet another massive public subsidy to oil companies like Shell who have been making billions in profits, while ordinary people are struggling to pay the bills.

“Instead of handing more money to polluters, it is time to redirect that investment to climate solutions that we know can deliver emissions cuts and improve peoples’ lives today – such as improving public transport and insulating people’s homes to help with energy bills.”

Commenting on the UK Government’s citation of analysis showing domestic gas production has a lower carbon footprint than imported gas, Church continued:

“It’s pure spin to try to sell more climate wrecking extraction as lower carbon when every nation needs to phase fossil fuels out with rich nations like the UK going first and fastest. What’s more, the Prime Minister is comparing apples and pears as most of what’s left in the North Sea is heavy oil, that we don’t even use domestically, not gas, so it has to be exported anyway.”

Notes to Editors

UK Government announcement 31/7/23

Shell is a key partner in the Acorn project. Last week the fossil fuel giant announced profits of £3.9billion for just the last 3 months, on top of the £32.2 billion profit in 2022. Despite this vast wealth, the Acorn project appears to be totally reliant on further public subsidy to progress.

Shell Q1 2023 profits announcement

Shell 2022 profits

Detailed timeline of 20 years of CCS failure, along with sources, is available at

Screengrab from the Acorn website in 2020 showing their predicted timeline of Carbon Capture deployment https://drive.google.com/file/d/1p1OoAldVtToaB2yCTDnhOzjOp0c-P-P9/view?usp=sharing

Partners in the Acorn project https://www.theacornproject.uk/about-acorn/our-partners

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland and
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.