UK’s fossil fuel bonanza

A North Sea oil platform. Photo credit: Reuters / Andy Buchanan.

By Anders Lorenzen

Despite being in the same political party that created it, the UK’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, is in the process of completely changing the country’s energy policy.

Gone are the net-zero promises and focus on a rapid clean energy transition, and in its place is a new narrative that more fossil fuels will solve the country’s energy crisis.

The revamped UK government, almost unrecognisable from the one led by Boris Johnson, has opened up new licenses for North Sea oil and gas production.

The North Sea Transition Authority has begun the process of awarding more than 100 licenses to companies, and as many as 900 locations have been offered up for exploration.

The new license offering which will run until June next year is the first since 2019-2020 after it was put on hold due to a climate compatibility check.

Energy Security

The government believes that opening up new fossil fuel areas for production will boost energy security. This comes as the government have also overturned a ban on fracking.

Campaigners and climate advocates have reacted strongly to the move, with Greenpeace UK deeming it ‘unlawful’.

And international bodies like the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the world’s climate scientists have repeatedly said that if we are to decarbonise our economies and stick to internationally agreed climate targets, we cannot open up any new fossil fuel projects.

The move by the UK government comes as the UK grid operator, the National Grid, warned that the UK could be facing three-hour blackouts this winter due to energy supply concerns. However, despite this, the government has not even drafted an energy conservation information campaign, unlike France which has done both things at breakneck speed. 

Experts have previously argued that the best way to ensure a stable energy supply is to massively invest in building energy-efficient homes and buildings and retrofitting existing ones; policy areas which have been consistently weakened by previous UK governments.

The UK’s new Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, who also oversees the county’s energy brief, is a known climate sceptic and has previously been known to favour fossil fuel projects over clean energy projects.

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