Environmental campaigners have reacted with outrage to the announcement that the UK Government has decided to continue granting licenses for companies to search for more oil and gas in the North Sea.

Fossil fuels are the key driver of climate change and through existing fields alone the UK is set to exceed its fair share of oil and gas under the Paris Agreement.

Instead of following the lead of countries like Denmark and Ireland who have announced an end to new licenses for oil and gas extraction, the UK Government has pledged to introduce a ‘Climate Compatibility Checkpoint’ ahead of each future licensing round to establish whether it is compatible with action to tackle the climate emergency.

They also criticised the industry-led North Sea Transition Deal for only addressing the tiny fraction of emissions from oil and gas production and ignoring the need to support workers and communities through a managed phase out of extraction, which is necessary to avoid climate breakdown.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Just Transition Campaigner Ryan Morrison said:

“This decision has completely exposed the outrageous hypocrisy inherent in the UK Government’s approach to the climate emergency which is a mix of denial and delusion with devastating consequences.

“The science on this is already crystal clear, burning fossil fuels is the key driver of this crisis so to avoid climate breakdown there can be no new licenses and existing production must be wound down over the next decade – a new ‘climate compatibility checkpoint’ isn’t going to change that reality.

“With the UN’s climate talks coming to Glasgow in November the Government may be hoping they can hide their fixation with fossil fuels behind this test, but with Ireland and Denmark already bringing an end to new licences, people will see through such cynical efforts.

“This announcement and the details of the North Sea Deal lets the polluting corporations controlling the oil and gas industry off the hook and badly fails workers and communities by failing to plan for a well managed and just transition in line with climate science.

“Oil and gas companies have repeatedly shown they are unwilling to act in the interests of people or planet, yet this deal is making risky bets by handing over vast sums of public money for them to spend on unproven technologies like carbon capture and fossil hydrogen, kicking real action on climate into the long grass.

“Instead of continuing to prioritise corporate interests, the Government must set an end date for oil and gas extraction in the UK and focus on engaging with workers and communities to build a plan for a new renewable energy future, backed up by investment from redirecting the vast public subsidies going to fossil fuels, to build a socially just zero-carbon economy.”

This release is in response to a Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy release.   https://www.gov.uk/search/all?organisations%5B%5D=department-for-business-energy-and-industrial-strategy&order=updated-newest&parent=department-for-business-energy-and-industrial-strategy

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
* 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.