Environmental campaigners have reacted angrily to the UK Government plans to increase exploration for new oil and gas fields despite the devastating climate impacts of burning fossil fuels.

They accused politicians of ‘sticking two fingers up’ to scientists calling for an end to fossil fuels to protect the climate. Climate science and energy experts have repeatedly warned that any new oil and gas projects will push the world well past dangerous climate limits.

The North Sea Transition Authority confirmed today that they will invite companies to apply for over 100 licences to explore for more fossil fuels in the North Sea.

The UK Committee on Climate Change said earlier this year that the timeline from the issuing of an exploration licence to production commencing ranges from under a decade to several decades, with an average of around 28 years.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opposed the controversial Cambo oil field last year, and has since recognised that oil and gas is not a solution to the current price crisis, but has so far stopped short of opposing the Jackdaw or Rosebank fields.

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

“By encouraging greedy fossil fuel companies to keep looking for more fossil fuels, the UK Government is denying the reality of the climate emergency. It is sticking two fingers up to climate scientists and energy experts who have made it clear that there should be no new oil and gas if we are to remain within agreed climate limits.

“The devastating climate impacts people are enduring with floods in Pakistan, Hurricane Ian in the US and the scorching heatwave in the UK are being driven by burning fossil fuels. The UK Government clearly doesn’t care about the impact its decisions will have on vulnerable people and communities around the world.

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

On the Scottish Government’s role:

“The Scottish Government must be willing to stand up to these reckless plans to expand fossil fuels in the North Sea. These announcements risk locking 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.”

On the ‘Climate Compatibility Checkpoint’:

“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.

Link to North Sea Transition Authority announcement

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 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 that “We would not expect increased UK extraction to materially affect global oil or gas prices” and “the best approach to reducing consumers’ exposure to fossil fuel prices is to make systematic efforts to reduce UK demand for fossil fuels”


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 of 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.