4 months ago • 2 mins
What’s going on here?
The UK’s polishing its oil and gas industry to a high shine – but not everyone’s cheering.
What does this mean?
Ever since Russia’s Ukraine invasion sparked an oil and gas crisis, energy security has been a hot topic. The US has already poured vast sums into it – and now the UK’s doing its bit, announcing plans for new licenses for oil and gas production in the North Sea. Green advocates aren’t thrilled, but the government insists it’s a step towards its 2050 net-zero emissions goal. See, even when that milestone is hit, the UK will still source a quarter of its energy from oil and gas – and the government argues that homegrown energy is better (and cheaper) than imports. To sweeten the deal for the eco-conscious, the UK’s also backing two new carbon capture projects and reaffirming its commitment to ban new diesel and petrol car sales by 2030.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Elective affinities.
With an election potentially looming next year, the ruling Conservatives are fine-tuning their policies, including their stance on energy. After all, the party’s sole recent victory in local special elections was chalked up to voter opposition to pricey green policies, which threaten to squeeze household finances even tighter. So now the government’s likely hoping a more balanced approach – including cheaper energy and job creation – will keep the opposing Labour Party at bay.
Zooming out: Capturing carbon – or just capturing the imagination.
Even with a renewable energy boom, hitting net-zero will depend on capturing emissions from hard-to-decarbonize activities like cement production. That’s where carbon capture technology comes in – but it’s not without its hurdles: the tech’s seriously expensive and yet to be proven at scale. And Greenpeace has even warned that leaning on this unproven tech could serve as an excuse to continue burning fossil fuels, rather than shifting to renewables.
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