PRIME Minister Rishi Sunak has announced hundreds of new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.
That means more fossil fuels will be removed from beneath the sea and be used to provide energy for homes and businesses in the UK and abroad. Mr Sunak argued that it’s better to use local oil and gas rather than to import it.
He said: “When we reach net zero in 2050, a quarter of our energy needs will still come from oil and gas, and domestic [UK] gas production has about a quarter or a third of the carbon footprint of imported gas.” The PM also argued that it’s better to use British fossil fuels rather than “rely on foreign dictators for that energy”.
That last sentence is thought to be a reference to Russia. But the UK has banned imports of oil, gas and coal from Russia as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
Net zero is the balance between the greenhouse gases that are produced and those that are removed from the atmosphere. By 2050, the Government says the UK will be removing more greenhouse gases than are produced, meaning the nation’s overall carbon emissions will be zero.
Environmental groups think Mr Sunak has made a terrible decision that will make net zero much harder to achieve. Friends of the Earth said: “Climate change is already battering the planet with… wildfires and heatwaves across the globe. Granting hundreds of new oil and gas licences will simply pour more fuel on the flames.” Experts say it takes at least 5-10 years for new drilling to produce fuel.
Chris Skidmore, an MP in Mr Sunak’s Conservative Party and a former science minister, also thought this was the wrong move. He described the new oil and gas licences as “the wrong decision at precisely the wrong time, when the rest of the world is experiencing record heatwaves”.
The Labour Party says it will stop any new North Sea oil and gas drilling if it wins the next general election.