Oil and gas developments like Rosebank ‘cannot be justified’, MPs tell Ministers
Dozens of MPs including Tories are urging Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to block the development of Rosebank, one of the UK’s largest untapped oil and gas fields.
Scientists have also this week told Sunak, in their hundreds, to reconsider his plans for a major oil and gas licencing round to be held from this Autumn.
Since announcing that licencing round earlier this week in Scotland, Sunak and his Ministers have been urged to reconsider by environmental groups, NGOs working on energy affordability, renewable energy developers and even some Tory MPs including Chris Skidmore and Alok Sharma. Prospective Tory candidate Richard Walker has also expressed his disapproval.
Sunak has additionally seen his popularity with voters decline as a result of the announcement. Greener-minded voters believe he is losing credibility on environmental issues, polls have found. Other voters have not received the news positively after several energy majors announced high profits last week, despite passing increased bills on to customers.
Now, MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on climate are urging Sunak “in the strongest possible terms” to block the development of the Rosebank oil and gas field. Norwegian firm Equinor is spearheading efforts to develop the field.
The Government’s decision on the Rosebank permit was meant to come before Parliament went on summer recess, but was delayed last month after the regulator asked for more detailed information on the field’s environmental impact.
Sunak is reportedly on holiday with his family in the US at present. In his absence, the APPG has written to Energy and Net-Zero Secretary Grant Shapps recommending that Rosebank is blocked.
Shapps has spoken to the media about his desire to exploit all of the UK’s North Sea oil and gas, claiming this is possible within the nation’s carbon budgets.
The APPG’s letter argues that this is not necessarily the case and also urges the Secretary of State to consider the international climate diplomacy message that would be sent by approving Rosebank. It highlights how the next UN climate conference, COP28, is on the horizon, and that many parts of the world are currently dealing with extreme weather made more likely and more intense by the climate crisis.
The letter also takes aim at the Government’s claim that developing British oil and gas would improve energy security and bring down bills.
It states: “90% of Rosebank’s reserves are oil, not gas, the vast majority of which would be destined for export. This has been confirmed by Equinor itself, which has said that Rosebank’s oil ‘will be sold on the open market, and the most likely destination for that oil is the continent of Europe’”.
The letter presses Shapps for a “swift response on this urgent issue”.
A decision has not yet been made on Rosebank, Shapps’ Department has stated.
Who are the APPG on climate?
APPG on climate members are Chris Skidmore (Conservative); Caroline Lucas (Green); Selaine Saxby (Conservative); Alexander Stafford (Conservative); Andrew Selous (Conservative); Hilary Benn (Labour); Paul Blomfield (Labour); Anna McMorrin (Labour); Alex Sobel (Labour); Afzal Khan (Labour); Barry Gardiner (Labour); Christiana Rees (Independent); Dan Carden (Labour); Jeff Smith (Labour); Olivia Blake (Labour); Nadia Whittome (Labour); Rachel Maskell (Labour); Zarah Sultana (Labour); Daisy Cooper (Lib Dem); Wera Hobhouse (Lib Dem); Alan Brown (SNP) and Tommy Sheppard (SNP).
Baroness Willis and Baroness Boycott, both crossbench peers in the House of Lords, also support this APPG.
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