First and foremost, I would like to assure you that I want us to stop using hydrocarbons as quickly as possible and the way to do that is to invest massively in wind, solar, hydrogen, and nuclear while significantly boosting our grid capacity, which is exactly what the Government is doing. Please be assured that I will continue to push the Government to go further and faster on this. I also want to see us maximise our tidal power capacity.
Nevertheless, as we have seen over the last year, global energy supplies have been disrupted and weaponised by the likes of Putin, causing household bills to soar and economic growth to slow around the world.
It is therefore essential that the UK has energy independence and security, and the Government is determined to safeguard our energy supply and power up Britain from Britain. As such, this Government is not only backing our oil and gas sector, but also investing in renewable energy and carbon capture.
The UK, like most major economies, is highly dependent on oil and gas and will be for decades to come. We get 75 per cent of our energy from oil and gas, and according to the Committee on Climate Change, oil and gas will still provide more than half of our energy needs in 2035, and 24 per cent of our energy needs even in a net zero 2050.
The Government remains firmly committed to its net zero target. However, oil and gas will be required in the transition to net zero, simply turning off the taps would mean we would have to import oil and gas, leaving us susceptible to global circumstances. Further, importing oil and gas harm our ambition to reach net zero. According to the North Sea Transition Authority, imported gas has a carbon footprint which is three times that of domestically produced gas.
The Government is therefore boosting our energy security by committing to hundreds of new oil and gas field licences in the North Sea, making sure we are not reliant on expensive, foreign imports. Gas and oil which we import from halfway around the world is up to 4 times worse for the climate than using the resources which we have on our own doorstep. I do not think we are in any way morally superior to leave our own oil and gas in the ground in order to then import it from halfway around the world in a way that is worse for the climate.
The Government is also investing in Carbon Capture and Storage, delivering on our net zero ambitions while creating 25,000 jobs and driving £10 billion of investment.
This will cut bills, cut emissions, and cut our dependence on foreign imports, safeguarding our long-term energy security, supporting families with the cost of living, and delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to grow the economy.
The Government cannot comment on the detail of the application for the proposed Rosebank oil and gas development. Development proposals for oilfields under existing licences, such as Rosebank, are a matter for the regulators following their standard regulatory processes. As such, it would be neither appropriate nor helpful for Ministers to engage in a running commentary on a live application ahead of a final decision being reached by both regulators.
However, I know that regulators submit all proposals for extensive scrutiny, including a detailed environmental impact assessment process and an extensive consultation. Comment is invited on the proposals from a number of statutory nature conservation bodies, and there is an opportunity for members of the public and non-governmental organisations to engage in the decision-making process. Once both regulators have made their final decision about the Rosebank application, that decision, along with a detailed summary of OPRED’s conclusions on its likely environmental impact, will be published on the OPRED website for all to see and critique.