The UK government has granted 113 licences for 65 companies to search for more oil and gas in the North Sea and UK waters.
The UK’s Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) who offered the awards has said that oil and gas remains an important part of the UK’s energy mix for the foreseeable future.
The UK is expected to remain a net importer of oil and gas, therefore OGA has said that managing the declining production and maximising the economic recovery from COVID-19 remains vital to meet energy demand and reduce reliance on imports.
The government has said they will launch a review of the offshore oil and gas licensing regime as part of its efforts to achieve net-zero.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Just Transition Campaigner Ryan Morrison said: ‘The continued licensing of vast swathes of the North Sea for oil and gas drilling has completely exposed the outrageous hypocrisy inherent in the UK’s Government’s approach to the climate emergency.
‘While patting themselves on the back for their ‘net zero’ targets, Ministers are handing f out yet more licenses for fossil fuel extraction that will take us speeding towards climate catastrophe.
‘The science on this is clear. To avoid further climate devastation like we are witnessing with the Californian wildfires, floods in Bangladesh and the recent tragic landslips here in Scotland, there can be no new oil and gas fields and existing sites must be wound down over the next decade.
‘The corporations controlling the oil and gas industry have repeatedly shown they are unable to act in the interests of people and planet, having both failed to diversify away from fossil fuels and at the first sign of trouble making thousands of workers redundant with no support.
Instead of continuing to prop up corporate interests and hurtling the world closer to climate breakdown, the Government should be redirecting the vast public subsidies for fossil fuel towards building a socially just zero-carbon economy.
‘It’s time to prioritise a Just Transition for workers in oil and gas by creating hundreds of thousands of decent green jobs where they’re needed, and giving communities the long-term certainty that cannot be provided by a fossil fuel economy.’