'Climate change is already battering the planet with unprecedented wildfires and heatwaves across the globe.'
The Prime Minister has today been condemned by opposition politicians as well as environmental groups after announcing the approval of about 100 new North Sea oil and gas licences amid a climate emergency.
Sunak, who says he’s committed to net zero, made the announcement during a visit to Aberdeenshire, arguing that the move would help the UK reach its target of meeting net zero by 2050.
It also draws a sharp dividing line with the Labour Party which has said that it will block new oil and gas developments in Britain if it wins power, saying it would focus instead on investments in renewable sources such as wind and nuclear power.
Sunak’s announcement comes at a time when the UN General Secretary is warning that the era of global warming has ended and “the era of global boiling has arrived”, after scientists confirmed July was on track to be the world’s hottest month on record and with heat waves causing wildfires in Europe’s Mediterranean region, Sunak seems totally divorced from reality with his latest announcement.
Reacting to the Prime Minister’s announcement of new oil and gas licences, Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, Mike Childs, said: “Rishi Sunak’s energy security drive should focus on energy efficiency and the UK’s vast home-grown renewable resources, rather than championing more costly and dirty fossil fuels.
“Climate change is already battering the planet with unprecedented wildfires and heatwaves across the globe. Granting hundreds of new oil and gas licences will simply pour more fuel on the flames, while doing nothing for energy security as these fossil fuels will be sold on international markets and not reserved for UK use.”
Oxfam also slammed the government’s hypocritical and dangerously inconsistent climate policy.
The charity’s Climate Change Policy Advisor, Lyndsay Walsh, said: “Today’s wrongheaded decision is yet another example of the government’s hypocritical and dangerously inconsistent climate policy.
“Extracting more fossil fuels from the North Sea will send a wrecking ball through the UK’s climate commitments at a time when we should be investing in a just transition to a low carbon economy and our own abundant renewables.
“As millions of people in low-income countries are pushed deeper into hunger and poverty by a climate crisis they haven’t caused, high emitting and wealthy countries like the UK can no longer just talk the talk – they must walk the walk.”
Sunak is also on the wrong side of voters, with a YouGov poll finding in May that Britons preferred to ban new oil and gas developments by 40% to 32%.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward