Climate Crisis? MPs and Activists Blast North Sea Oil and Gas Plans

Activists and MPs challenge the validity of North Sea oil and gas job claims amidst climate concerns and persistent calls for transparency. Here’s the full story.

Little to Celebrate

The UK Government has had few things to celebrate recently, with scandals, controversies, and recent figures showing that poverty has reached record levels in the sixth wealthiest country on Earth. 

However, one thing that the Conservatives have constantly claimed is that they are the party of job creators and industry, even if that industry is destroying the planet on which we all live.

Following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement that the government will be pushing back its net zero targets and will be actively investing in new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, Downing Street could attempt to shield itself from the criticism from environmental activists, scientists and the public with one key phrase: jobs. 

If the government were asked about its insistence on drilling for more oil in the North Sea, despite all scientific evidence showing that it would be catastrophic for the impending climate emergency, the government could claim that the industry supports 200,000 jobs.

Despite this number being repeatedly cited by government officials to justify the continued and increasing investment in oil and gas, activists and even some MPs have begun to ask uncomfortable questions regarding its validity and relevance, especially while the planet continues to heat up.

Show Your Working

Both campaigners and MPs have raised concerns over the lack of scrutiny applied to the 200,000 jobs figure, which encompasses both direct and indirect employment within the oil and gas sector. 

The main reason for the criticism is that this statistic, rather than being academically sourced or researched by the Office for National Statistics, was sourced from the oil and gas industry. 

Critics argue that this means that the figure, which lacks independent verification, fails to realistically reflect the employment numbers for the oil and gas sector accurately.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has spearheaded efforts to gain clarity on the origins and methodology behind the 200,000 jobs claim. Lucas stated, “The government has been defending its dangerous plan to mandate annual oil and gas licenses by claiming the sector supports 200,000 British jobs. But that figure comes directly from the industry itself and has not been independently verified.”

She continued, “Rather than delivering a much-needed just transition for oil and gas workers, the government is deliberately cherry-picking its data in an increasingly desperate attempt to justify pumping yet more planet-heating fossil fuels in its reckless and grossly irresponsible climate culture war.”

No Further Questions

Energy Minister Graham Stuart defended the 200,000 jobs assertion, attributing it to Offshore Energies UK and emphasized that this figure included direct, indirect, and induced employment. He gave no further clarification on how the 200,000 figure was arrived at. 

Offshore Energies UK, the industry body responsible for the claim of 200,000 jobs, collaborated with Experian, a data analysis firm, to derive this statistic. Utilizing Office for National Statistics (ONS) job figures and tracking expenditure throughout the economy, Experian employed a standard calculation methodology to quantify direct, indirect, and induced employment linked to the oil and gas sector.

Despite industry assurances, sceptics emphasize the importance of rigorous government scrutiny to verify the purported economic benefits of oil and gas production. 

Tessa Khan, executive director of climate action organization Uplift, stated, “Instead of getting across the detail and coming up with a coherent plan, this government has abdicated responsibility for making sure workers and communities aren’t left behind to the market and an industry that prioritizes shareholder returns over investment in jobs.”

She continued, “What’s urgently needed are politicians prepared to take a clear-eyed look at the sector and where it is headed and who will come up with a plan for delivering a managed and crucially fair transition for workers and communities.”

“Not At All Surprising”

Jonathan Noronha-Gant, a spokesperson for the environmental group Global Witness was even more damning in their criticism of the government, stating, “It’s not at all surprising that the government is parroting industry figures about how many jobs the oil and industry creates in the UK.”

He continued, “The Conservative party has long been one of the oil and gas industry’s biggest cheerleaders, taking its money and giving away thousands of drilling licenses.”

Breaking the Truth

The controversy surrounding the claim of 200,000 jobs reflects the deeply felt belief amongst campaigners and environmentalists alike that the government is happy to stretch the truth to the breaking point to continue profiting from oil and gas. 

The International Energy Agency has been clear that new oil and gas drilling cannot be allowed if global heating is to be limited to 1.5C. Despite this, the government continues to hide behind job figures in a devastated economy they have been in charge of for over a decade. It uses that as a shield to protect itself from the uncomfortable truth that the planet is dying, and more drilling will only expedite it. 

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The post Climate Crisis? MPs and Activists Blast North Sea Oil and Gas Plans first appeared on Edge Media.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Simon Pedersen.

Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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