Staggering BP profits spark outrage

BP reported £4bn in profit in the first quarter of 2023

BP sign on a blue sky

Fossil fuel giant BP has one again reported eye watering profits. In the first quarter of 2023, BP made £4 billion.

The news has sparked outrage amongst opposition politicians and groups campaigning on the climate and cost of living crises.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak called for a ‘proper’ windfall tax on companies like BP. He said: “These eye-watering profits are an insult to working families as millions struggle with sky-high bills. Oil and gas companies have been allowed to get away with treating the British public like cash machines. 

“The government has left billions on the table by refusing to impose a proper windfall tax on the likes of BP. And even now ministers are refusing to take action to fix our broken energy market and stop this obscene price gouging. We could have lower household bills and an energy system that served the public, if government taxed excessive profits, introduced a social tariff and created public ownership of new clean power.” 

The Labour Party has made similar calls for taxation on fossil fuel companies. The shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband said: “The Tory windfall tax is still full of get-out clauses with billions being bunged at oil and gas companies in special subsidies not available in any other part of the energy sector.”

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader echoed this call on BBC Breakfast this morning, saying the Tory government has only introduced a ‘pretend’ windfall tax.

Environmental NGO Greenpeace said the government should force the fossil fuel industry to pay for their impact on the climate. Charlie Kronick, Senior Climate Advisor at Greenpeace UK, said: “Last week, shareholders backed BP’s plans to slash their climate commitments just days before scientists confirmed fossil fuels are almost certainly to blame for the devastating drought in East Africa. Now they are once again celebrating bumper profits, while millions in Britain are still struggling with sky-high energy bills.

“BP’s profits are still surging – and we’re the ones picking up the tab. It’s time for the government to step in and force BP – and the rest of the oil industry – to start paying for the damage they’re causing to the climate and use the money to address the devastating climate impacts already being experienced around the world.”

Meanwhile, some in the trade union movement have called for the government to go further than simply taxing companies more. Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union called for energy firms to be nationalised.

This isn’t the first time the profits of oil and gas companies have sparked outrage. BP reported £23 billion in profit in 2022. Shell reported record profits of £32.2 billion the same year.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: Mike Mozart – Creative Commons

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