Today’s oil drilling round could bust us through UK’s climate limits

26 Oct 2016 admin

The UK government is pushing a massive new offshore drilling programme, that will take the UK beyond its climate limits.

Oil companies had until 2pm today to bid for 1200 blocks covering large swathes of the sea off North-west and North-east Scotland and England.

The Transocean Winner runs aground on the Isle of Lewis off Scotland.
The Transocean Winner runs aground on the Isle of Lewis off Scotland.

This is the the 29th Offshore Licensing Round, and it aims to identify hundreds of millions in barrels of new oil and gas reserves. The problem is, we already have more offshore oil & gas than we can afford to burn. A recent report by Oil Change International showed that the oil, gas and coal just in already-developed fields and mines would cause more than 2 C of warming.

There is no space in the atmosphere for the resulting CO2 emissions if new fields are discovered and then extracted.

That means that the new drilling round conflicts with the UK’s commitments under the Paris Accord to limit global warming to well below 2 C, and to strive to limit it to 1.5 C.

When you’re in a hole, stop drilling

The world already has far more oil, gas and coal reserves than can ever be burned, a point acknowledged anyone serious about climate change, including people like Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and US President Barack Obama.

That’s why Platform together with our allies is calling on the government to suspend the new offshore drilling licensing round. oga-29th-licensing-round-frontier-areas-in-white-june-2016

A coalition including Platform, Oil Change, Friends of the Earth Scotland, New Economics Foundation and Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland are calling for science-based limits on fossil fuel extraction, and to bring government plans in line with its international climate treaty commitments. This must happen alongside government investment into a just transition, with decent local jobs and industry at the heart of a clean economy.

We’re paying the multinationals to drill

Ignoring the climate arguments and on a selfish UK level, this might make sense if Britain was getting lots of revenue from the oil. Except – we provide a net subsidy of over £1 billion per year. Tax revenues from offshore oil are negative and projected to remain so in the future- that means we are paying BP and Shell so that they take the oil out and sell it.

It looks like we’re rushing into more exploration, so that we can pay more money to oil companies for them to extract oil for their profits.


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