Any attempt to prop up the oil and gas industry in the wake of COVID-19 at the expense of transitioning to cleaner renewable energy would escalate the world’s climate crisis, politicians have been warned.
It comes after fossil fuel firm champions Oil and Gas UK released a report in which it claimed 30,000 jobs could be at risk over the current fall in market prices.
The oil lobbyists are urging governments to step in to support the multi-billion pound profit sectors as it continues to deliberate what its future may look like amid growing criticisms of the impacts the industry has had on emissions targets.
That coincides with populations across the world seeing improvement in air quality, noise reduction, social stresses and nature as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the deadly effects of which some studies are linking with pollution.
Friends of the Earth Scotland Just Transition Campaigner Ryan Morrison said: “Any measures that simply seek to return the oil and gas industry back to how it was before are ignoring the fundamental vulnerability of the sector, locking in further disruption from the escalating climate crisis.
“The energy system is failing to deliver for people and planet, and any government support for the industry must be rooted in delivering a Just Transition.
“This means protecting the workforce, transitioning away from fossil fuels and transforming the energy sector to address wider social issues not just short term strategies to boost shareholder profit.”
He added:“The industry claims to have net zero plans but these are about reducing the impact of extracting fossil fuels and not about the much larger impacts of actually burning these billions of barrels of oil and gas.
“The best zero carbon strategy is a rapid, well-planned conversion of the offshore industry away from fossil fuels and towards renewables.
“Any financial package must not be used to support companies’ continued expansion, continued exploration or development of new fields. The climate emergency demands that these activities must be brought to an end.”
“We must now look to build our green economy, as the only route to a secure and sustainable energy sector.
“As part of a green and just recovery there can be absolutely no weakening of our commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement nor vital safety and environmental regulations.”
His call came after Oil & Gas UK released its report detailing predictions of around 20% of the North Sea workforce being left redundant over the next 18-months.
OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie said it remained an industry “worth fighting for.”
She added: “Like so many industries, our members have been profoundly impacted by COVID-19.
“With historic low oil and gas prices coming so soon after one of the most severe downturns our sector has experienced, these findings confirm an especially bleak outlook for the UK’s oil and gas industry.”
“If the UK is to maintain its supply of domestic energy, protect jobs and build the critical infrastructure it needs to transition to a net zero future, ours is an industry worth fighting for.
“It’s why OGUK is today outlining a three-stage framework with a range of measures for governments and regulators to support industry now, stimulate a recovery and accelerate the transition to a net zero future.”
LISTEN: OGUK chief executive Deirdrie Michie makes her case to prop up the oil and gas industry: