Activist groups Platform, Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth Scotland have published a report, stating that UK oil and gas drilling plans are incompatible with responding to climate change.
The report, Sea Change, examines the climate impact of offshore operations in the North Sea and suggests policies and initiatives to facilitate a transition to “clean industries”.
Sea Change finds that the UK’s production of 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in existing offshore fields will exceed the UK’s share as established in the Paris Agreement, and observes that additional operations enabled by subsidies in 2015 and 2016 could add twice as much carbon to the atmosphere as was saved by phasing out coal power.
The report suggests the termination of upcoming offshore licensing rounds and the establishment of transition plans for the industry, which it claims could provide an “equivalent job guarantee” for workers on oil and gas platforms.
Sea Change warns that failure to begin transition sooner could result in the collapse of the industry, “putting regional economies and tens of thousands of jobs at risk.”
Oil Change International research director Greg Muttit said: “Our report exposes the elephant in the room of UK and Scottish climate policy: the government is pushing increased oil drilling while seeking to decrease carbon emissions, and it just doesn’t add up.
“We are facing a climate emergency, and government needs to get serious about a transition to clean energy, rather than maximising North Sea extraction and putting billions of pounds of subsidies in the pockets of oil companies. When you’re in a hole, you need to stop digging.”
Platform campaigner Anna Markova said: “Climate science says we have to stop drilling for oil – the question is how. Right now we’re headed for a ‘no-deal exit’ from oil extraction, crashing out without protecting jobs, ports, construction yards.
“If we begin a planned transition instead, renewable industries can create hundreds of thousands of decent clean jobs where they’re needed, and fill the economic gap left by the oil industry.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church said: “Climate science is clear that we urgently need to phase out fossil fuels, yet the government and big oil are doing everything they can to squeeze every last drop out of the North Sea.
To tackle the climate emergency head on we must ban oil and gas exploration now, and redirect the vast subsidies propping up fossil fuel extraction towards creating decent jobs in a clean energy economy. Real climate leadership means making tough decisions now that put us on a path to a climate safe future.”