It’s difficult to think of anything more dumb than planning to find new sources of dirty oil and gas when the planet is ecologically collapsing because of dirty oil and gas. That is unless your name is Kwasi Kwarteng. And the Tory business and energy secretary’s associated remarks have outstripped even that proposal itself in sheer absurdity.
A message to the world…
As scientists warned that the climate crisis could mean regular wildlfires blazing across Britain in the not-too-distant future, the government made an upbeat announcement. In what can only be described as the policy equivalent of dancing on its own citizens’ future graves, ministers cheerily explained that it had struck a “landmark deal” on fossil fuel exploration.
The deal will allow oil and gas companies to keep digging in the North Sea for more sources of dirty fossil fuels. The government is also planning to pay for it with billions of taxpayer cash. Of course, that means dirty energy companies are laughing all the way to the bank. But the government’s buoyancy didn’t centre on that aspect of the plan (even the Tories must recognise what a hard sell that would be). No, the government portrayed the deal as something to celebrate because it will allegedly “support the oil and gas industry’s transition to clean, green energy”.
But how will allowing companies to expand dirty energy production support their transition to clean energy? Apparently because those companies will have to pass a “climate compatibility” test to get in on the act. This test will be implemented through the government setting up:
a new Climate Compatibility Checkpoint before each future oil and gas licensing round to ensure licences awarded are aligned with wider climate objectives, including net-zero emissions by 2050, and the UK’s diverse energy supply
Like a choke-able cherry on top of this horseshit-filled celebration cake, Kwarteng then added:
Today, we are sending a clear message around the world that the UK will be a nation of clean energy as we build back better and greener from the pandemic.
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…the UK is NO climate leader
The plan does send a clear message to the world. The first line of that message reads ‘Selecting the UK to host the UN climate change conference in 2021 (COP26) was a big mistake’. The second line is along the lines of ‘for leadership on saving the planet, look to the UK at your peril’. The third is ‘this is what happens when you put rabid capitalists in charge, suckers’.
As many have pointed out since the scandalous announcement, the road to a clean energy future should not include exploring for further sources of dirty energy:
There goes the UK's "leadership on climate"
Denmark & France have banned new oil & gas licences but Govt approves them if they are *climate compatible*
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) March 24, 2021
We cannot burn existing global reserves of fossil fuels; 'exploring' for & extracting more risks catastrophic climate change. Denmark showed what leadership looks like by ending North Sea oil & gas extraction. Why won't #COP26 hosts step up & do the same? https://t.co/EmkHe4Qeot
— Gareth Redmond-King 🌍 (@gredmond76) March 24, 2021
In fact, as the above Tweeter pointed out, the world can’t use its existing reserves of fossil fuels if it wants a hope in hell of avoiding immense global warming.
Evidence on unburnable oil, gas & coal: a thread.
Yesterday I asked for your go-to references on ‘unburnable carbon’ – i.e. the amount of oil, coal & gas that must stay in the ground if we’re to meet Paris goals.
Got some great responses – here goes
— Rebecca Willis (@Bankfieldbecky) July 7, 2020
So the only reasonable plan for the North Sea would be no new exploration. Indeed, as Denmark’s minister of climate, energy, and utilities and Costa Rica’s minister of environment and energy previously said in a joint article:
we need to put an end to fossil fuel exploration and establish final cutoff dates for [existing] production
That’s why Mel Evans, the head of Greenpeace UK’s oil campaign, argues that a good plan from the UK government would be putting all its energies “into a nationwide programme of retraining, reskilling and investment in renewables and green infrastructure”.
Expecting a good plan from this government is clearly too much to ask, however. That should come as no surprise though. The North Sea plan is the latest in a long line of proposals that show the UK is severely lacking in adequate leadership when it comes to the climate and biodiversity crises.
Featured image via YouTube
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