More oil and gas wells are to be drilled in the North Sea, the UK government has announced.
The decision has angered environmental campaigners, who say the government should refuse new licences.
Ministers say permission to drill will be granted as part of a careful transition away from fossil fuels, safeguarding jobs and the economy.
But the environmentalists say that enough fossil fuels to ruin the climate have already been found. In light of this, they say, the government should have refused the new licences.
They add that the decision undermines the UK position as leader of the vital UN climate conference in November, known as COP26.
But ministers insist that their strategy will work. So-called “checkpoints” will be introduced that take into account domestic demand for oil and gas, projected production levels, the increase in clean technologies such as offshore wind, and the sector’s progress in cutting emissions.
The sector will face targets to reduce emissions by 10% by 2025 and 25% by 2027. It is also committed to cut emissions by 50% by 2030. It will be helped by joint government and private investment of up to £16bn by 2030.
High-skilled oil and gas workers and the supply chain will not be left behind in the transition to a low carbon future, the UK government vowed on the 24th March as a landmark North Sea Transition Deal was agreed with industry.
The sector deal between the UK government and oil and gas industry will support workers, businesses, and the supply chain through this transition by harnessing the industry’s existing capabilities, infrastructure and private investment potential to exploit new and emerging technologies such as hydrogen production, Carbon Capture Usage and Storage, offshore wind and decommissioning.
Through the Deal, the oil and gas sector, largely based in Scotland and the North East, government and trade unions will work together over the next decade and beyond to deliver the skills, innovation and new infrastructure required to decarbonise North Sea production. Not only will the Deal support existing companies to decarbonise in preparation for a net zero future by 2050, but it will also create the right business environment to attract new industrial sectors to base themselves in the UK, develop new export opportunities for British business, and secure new high-value jobs for the long-term.
Extracting oil and gas on the UK Continental Shelf is directly responsible for around 3.5% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Through the package of measures, the Deal is expected to cut pollution by up to 60 million tonnes by 2030 including 15 million tonnes from oil and gas production on the UK Continental Shelf – the equivalent of annual emissions from 90% of the UK’s homes – while supporting up to 40,000 jobs across the supply chain.