Coalition calls for greater ambition and transparency in Sector Deal for oil and gas industry

A coalition of MPs, renewables industry representatives and environmental groups has today [02.07.2020] written an open letter to Kwasi Kwarteng, Minister for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, urging Government not to protect the interests of the oil and gas industry at the expense of workers and our climate.

The coalition’s letter calls for greater transparency in any Sector Deal for the fossil fuel industry, and to ensure any deal transforms this destructive industry for the public good, instead of propping up business as usual. Oil and Gas UK are in “formal discussions” with Government over a deal as part of the pandemic recovery plan.

The letter states: “Public money must be used for public good, with formal conditions in place to ensure it delivers for both the climate and for workers and communities. To achieve a green recovery, it must be directed towards transformational projects, not continuing business as usual.”

This comes after the Prime Minister announced a new package of support for the economy, which failed to mention the future of the oil and gas industry, or how the government would support a green transition for the industry. More detail on immediate government investment plans is expected from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak next week.

Oil and Gas UK’s limited commitment to halve operation emissions in the next decade would only cover 15% of its total oil and gas emissions. However, this unambitious target was welcomed by Mr Kwarteng, who said that the oil and gas industry has a “vital role to play” in the UK’s just energy transition.

Campaigners are concerned that a lack of ambition or conditionality, as well as reliance on dubious strategies such as carbon capture storage, will result in a sector deal that props up a polluting industry, jeopardises jobs, and makes the climate emergency much worse.

Mel Evans, senior oil campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said:
“It’s deeply troubling that our government is so happy to welcome a pathetic industry target, without consulting more widely, which it knows is nowhere near enough to keep us on track to limit global heating to 1.5C.

“Kwasi Kwarteng has a real opportunity to protect jobs, our economy, and our climate by securing a sector deal that prioritises a shift to renewable energy. We hope he does not throw that chance away, to save a harmful industry that’s already past its sell-by date.”

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE FEI, Chief Executive at the REA said:
“Renewables, clean technology and a Net Zero economy is the future of the UK and a not so distant future at that. Partaking in an Oil and Gas Sector deal now is delaying the inevitable at the detriment of the planet, the UK’s position as a global leader in climate mitigation and those wanting to pursue careers in renewable energy and clean technology.

“As it stands we have a once in a lifetime chance to press reset on our current system and build the clean, inclusive and fair economy the Government has been promising. We should be grasping this opportunity with both hands and pushing ourselves to get back on track to Net Zero not using this as a justification to prop up unabated fossil fuels.”

A full copy of the open letter is available here.