New North Sea Oil and Gas Licences announced as the world burns
The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today announced 100 new oil and gas exploration licences in the North Sea and carbon capture schemes. He claimed that these risky bets on fossil fuel extraction and unproven carbon capture technologies were justified in the name of energy resilience.
The gas and oil extracted from any new North Sea extraction will add tens of millions of tons of new carbon to the atmosphere and the oil and gas will be sold on the open market. This irresponsible decision to grant new licences comes as Europe and Canada suffer from severe wildfires caused by climate-change related heatwaves and scientists warn of the collapse of the Antarctic icesheet and the Gulf Stream. It is incompatible with attempts to reach net zero by 2050 and our climate change commitments to the world. Today the Financial Times claimed that the Government had ‘cut the cost of polluting‘.
The attempt to use new and largely untried carbon capture technologies is nothing more than a fig leaf, a piece of greenwashing. Carbon capture is an immature and emergent technology that is expensive and has never been done at scale.
“This is the wrong decision at precisely the wrong time, when the rest of the world is experiencing record heatwaves. It is on the wrong side of a future economy that will be founded on renewable and clean industries and not fossil fuels.
It is on the wrong side of modern voters who will vote with their feet at the next general election for parties that protect, and not threaten, our environment, and it is on the wrong side of history that will not look favourably on the decision taken today.
Worryingly, this decision has also been announced when MPs are on recess, unable to hold the government to account.”
Only last month the Foreign Office Minister Zac Goldsmith resigned from Sunak’s government saying: “the UK has visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature… [and that] this government’s apathy in the face of the greatest challenge” was the cause of his resignation.
Tory antipathy to the environment is nothing new of course. We all remember David Cameron and his decision to “cut the green crap“. This choice to end onshore wind projects, solar subsidies and energy efficiencies has cost us all dear: to the tune of an additional £2.5 billion on our bills.
A greener, fairer Britain
Labour knows that the best place for dirty, polluting fossil fuels is in the ground. The leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer has confirmed plans to block new oil and gas projects.
Today Labour MP Ed Milliband slammed Rishi Sunak’s announcement:
“Every family and business in Britain has paid the price of the Conservatives’ failed energy policy which has left Britain as the worst hit country in western Europe during the energy crisis – and Rishi Sunak is making the same mistake all over again”.
Labour has pledged as one of its five missions to make Britain a green superpower. It is a plan that will make energy cheap and secure, so that the British public never again face spiralling bills; boost jobs and investment in every region and nation of the country; and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.
Achieving this mission will:
● CUT ENERGY BILLS for good, taking up to £1,400 off the annual household bill and £53 billion off energy bills for businesses by 2030;
● CREATE GOOD JOBS, by rebuilding the strength of our industrial heartlands and coastal communities, creating over a million jobs in ten years;
● DELIVERY SECURITY, by using our abundant natural resources to free ourselves from the manipulations of Vladimir Putin and petrostates; and
● Provide CLIMATE LEADERSHIP, to protect our planet for future generations.
Labour’s plans will deliver lower bills and good jobs for Britain. In government we will:
● Act fast to lead the world with clean and cheap power by 2030, backing the builders not the blockers so Britain gets the cheap, clean power we need;
● Establish GB Energy – a new home-grown, publicly-owned champion in clean energy generation – to build jobs and supply chains here at home;
● Set up the National Wealth Fund, which will create good, well-paying jobs by investing alongside the private sector in gigafactories, clean steel plants, renewable-ready ports, green hydrogen and energy storage; and
● Upgrade nineteen million homes with our Warm Homes Plan, so that families have cheaper energy bills permanently, with warm, future-proofed homes.