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Fossil Fuels

UK to grant new oil and gas licences in North Sea annually despite climate change

Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government plans to introduce legislation called the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill.

THE UK GOVERNMENT will allow fossil fuel companies to bid for new drilling licences on a yearly basis, to the chagrin of climate change experts who say that oil and gas extraction must be reduced, not increased, to save the planet.

The UK’s King Charles has delivered his first ‘King’s Speech’ to the parliament today. The speech is written by the government for the monarch to deliver and sets out the legislative agenda for the coming months.

Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunaks’ government intends to introduce legislation called the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill to mandate annual oil and gas licensing in the North Sea.

The speech claimed the new fossil fuel sites would support the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050 “without adding undue burdens on households”.

However, environmental NGO Friends of the Earth said that Sunak’s “obsession with undermining green policies is totally out of step with the public AND does nothing for the millions facing another winter of sky-high energy bills”.

“Sunak could have used this moment to set out strong laws to boost the economy, cut emissions and bring down our energy bills. Instead, the PM chose to side with the fossil fuel industry,” Friends of the Earth wrote on social media after the speech.

“The fact remains that more North Sea oil and gas will do nothing to reduce bills or improve energy security.”

The speech also outlined plans to end no-fault evictions, facilitate self-driving cars and buses on UK roads, and ban the live export of livestock for slaughter.

In September, Sunak announced a U-turn on several climate policies, including pushing a ban on new petrol and diesel cars out another five years from 2030 to 2035.

Global average temperatures are rising due to human influence and are expected to continue to push upwards unless countries take rapid action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Failure to cut emissions and prevent temperatures from rising further will spell disaster in many ways, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like storms and heatwaves.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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