Environmental campaigners have said that the UK Government needs to address the ‘elephant in the room’ of domestic oil and gas production as it unveils a raft of energy announcements geared towards meeting climate commitments.

The UK Government’s ‘energy revolution’ package was silent on the urgent need to phase out North Sea oil and gas. This is despite the mounting climate crisis and scientists’ repeated warnings that the use of fossil fuels must be significantly reduced this decade.

Approval of the controversial Rosebank oil field is thought to be imminent, while the decision to offer over 100 new exploration licences shows the UK Government’s climate-denying commitment to long term oil and gas expansion.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns Mary Church said:

“With this package the UK Government is trying to greenwash its woeful lack of climate ambition and ignoring the massive elephant in the room of its own oil and gas expansion plans.

“This Government cannot be taken seriously on climate whilst it looks set to approve the hugely polluting Rosebank oil field and deliver billions in public subsidies to make that controversial project happen. Fossil fuels are driving both climate breakdown and the cost of living crisis yet the UK Government looks set to slam its foot down on the accelerator.

“Failure from politicians to put an end date on oil and gas, and properly plan and support the transition to renewables is leaving workers totally adrift on the whims of fossil fuel companies, and the planet to burn. Workers and communities most affected must be at the heart of planning the transition to decent green renewable jobs.”

Amongst today’s announcements was more detail on the process for public subsidies for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects. The Scottish cluster, which includes the controversial Scottish Government backed Acorn project, could move forward under a new application process launched today.

Church continued:

“The UK Government is throwing public money at fossil fuel companies to try and prolong this climate-wrecking industry through the pipe dreams of carbon capture. These CCS projects risk yet more missed climate targets and turning the seas off Scotland into Europe’s carbon dumping ground.

“Politicians at both Westminster and Holyrood need to wake up and realise that carbon capture is a dangerous distraction from the urgent and necessary work of cutting climate emissions at source and delivering a just transition away from fossil fuels. The Scottish Government must chart a different course from Westminster, end its over-reliance on speculative negative emissions technologies, and focus on the real solutions that can cut carbon and improve people’s lives now. ”

Notes to Editors

North Sea Transition Authority announcement (October 2022)

New estimates by the campaign group Uplift show that Rosebank, expected to cost £4.1bn to develop, could receive an effective taxpayer subsidy worth £3.75bn through tax breaks and the loophole in the government’s windfall tax. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/24/uk-government-launch-revamped-net-zero-strategy-oil-gas-capital-aberdeen

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.