Environmental campaigners have reacted to the UK Government plans to ramp up oil and gas extraction despite its devastating climate impacts.

The Secretary of State for Energy Jacob Rees-Mogg confirmed today that the UK Government will support over 100 licences for companies to explore for more fossil fuels in the North Sea, as well as lifting the moratorium on fracking in England.

Climate science and energy experts have repeatedly warned that any new oil and gas projects will push the world well past dangerous climate limits.

Last year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opposed the controversial Cambo oil field but since then she has failed to speak out against the recently approved Jackdaw field or the Rosebank field which contains nearly 500 million barrels of oil.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Oil and Gas campaigner Freya Aitchison said:

“In ploughing forward with this new licensing round, the UK Government is effectively denying the reality of the climate emergency with scientists and energy experts clear that there can be no new oil and gas. The devastating climate impacts people are enduring with floods in Pakistan, typhoons in Japan and heatwaves in the UK are being driven by burning fossil fuels.

“The UK government’s supposed checkpoint is a worthless charade as there can be no climate compatible new oil and gas. It is a deeply cynical attempt to provide cover for reckless plans to expand the very industry that is fuelling both the climate and the cost of living crises.

“With the cost of living skyrocketing due to the volatile prices of oil and gas, it’s obvious that our current system is completely unfit for purpose, serving only to make oil company bosses and shareholders richer while everyone else loses out. We urgently need a transition to an energy system powered by renewables, and a mass rollout of energy efficiency measures to reduce energy demand.”

“The Scottish Government must be willing to stand up to these reckless plans to expand fossil fuels and hand out permits for oil and gas companies to explore and drill in the North Sea. These plans will lock us into a climate-destroying energy system for decades to come, entrenching reliance on this volatile industry in places like Aberdeen, and leaving people all across Scotland exposed to rocketing energy bills.”

BEIS press release https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-government-takes-next-steps-to-boost-domestic-energy-production

Independent advisors have made it clear that increasing UK supply of oil and gas will have almost no impact on UK bills as prices are set by the international market. The CCC said they would “support a tighter limit on production, with stringent tests and a presumption against exploration.” The UK Committee on Climate Change wrote to the UK energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng in Feb 2022 to say:

“We would not expect increased UK extraction to materially affect global oil or gas prices, as the UK energy market is highly connected to international markets and the potential supply relatively small. Even extracting all proven UK reserves and resources from new fields would only meet about 1% of European gas demand each year to 2050.”

“The best approach to reducing consumers’ exposure to fossil fuel prices is to make systematic efforts to reduce UK demand for fossil fuels, through policies that enable and encourage a cost-effective switch to low-carbon alternatives and improved efficiency.”

The International Energy Agency has said that there should be no new oil and gas projects if the world is to stay with 1.5C or warming.

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.