Smart talk plans

Climate charity condemns government’s national oil and gas plans

A charity supporting climate innovation, Ashden, has condemned the government’s decision to issue a new round of licenses for oil and gas projects in the North Sea.

The Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, recently wrote a letter supporting the government’s plans under the new energy security strategy.

In it, Mr Kwarteng said projects in the North Sea are essential to ensure a smooth transition to local energy and to reduce dependence on foreign fuels.

“I also want to be clear that we will not bend to the will of campaigners who naively want us to shut down production on the UK continental shelf – that would put UK energy security and jobs at risk, and just increase foreign imports, without reducing demand,” he wrote. “Scaling up, accelerating and investing in local energy generation will help us continue to grow the UK economy, create good jobs across the country and crucially reduce long-term consumer bills.”

However, Ashden criticized this position and cited the recent IPCC report which recommends a switch to renewable energy as soon as possible.

“The government is extremely myopic to issue a new round of oil and gas licenses. Instead, they should invest in the ‘3 Rs’ – Rapid transition away from fossil fuels, more renewable energy and major renovations – now! said Harriet Lamb, CEO of Ashden. “On what planet does the government live that, just six months after issuing dramatic calls for action at COP26, wants to further encourage the fossil fuels that are destroying our world?”

“The UK should focus all its efforts on fast and cheap renewables and prioritize energy efficiency measures. A smart investment in renovation will reduce energy demand, turn icy homes into insulated homes, and help families across the country save on their high energy bills. It would also boost local businesses, create new jobs in every corner of the country, and support the government’s net zero and leveling goals. It would be a much better decision than wasting precious time and money extracting expensive fossil fuels that will take years to extract. Increasing oil and gas licenses will do nothing to solve the fuel crisis we currently find ourselves in, but will add fuel to the fire of the climate crisis.

The new licensing round is expected to launch this fall and projects will be subject to a climate compatibility checkpoint introduced last December.

In related news, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) expressed dismay that energy efficiency measures have been left out of the government’s new energy security strategy.

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi