Thank you to all those who contacted me about new oil and gas developments in the North Sea.
It is widely recognised that we need to continue to use the North Sea, including production from existing fields. However, new exploration there will have no effect on energy bills and would take a long time to come on stream – with an average of 28 years from exploration to production. Furthermore, it would not create good jobs and, as hundreds of leading UK scientists warned the Prime Minister in March, would be completely wrong for the climate.
The UN has warned that countries are on course to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with limiting average global temperature increases to 1.5°C. The International Energy Agency, meanwhile, has made clear that the pathway the world must take to get to a net zero energy system by 2050 involves no new oil and gas fields being approved for development beyond projects already committed to as of 2021. So, while we need a phased and just transition that ensures we protect the interests of oil and gas workers in the North Sea, that does not mean carrying on with a business-as-usual approach or pretending that the climate emergency does not exist.
I therefore believe the Government’s plan to double down on fossil fuels with new exploration in the North Sea is the wrong answer to the fossil fuel crisis we face. The quickest, cheapest and best answer for our national energy security is a green energy sprint. This would not only help fight the climate crisis, but also increase our energy security and bring down bills. Crucially, it would also harness the technologies and opportunities of the future to create hundreds of thousands of good, well-paid jobs.
It is for this reason I support calls to make our electricity system fossil fuel free by 2030, including by quadrupling offshore wind, doubling onshore wind and more than tripling solar. We should also make energy efficiency a national mission, insulating 19 million homes across the UK.