This new year must be the one the UK commits to phasing down fossil fuels for good
Extinction Rebellion protesters on Westminster Bridge (Credit: Vuk Valcic/Alamy Live News)
After the drama and tumult of the last 12 months, what might 2023 have in store for us? Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse sets out her wish for the new year ahead
This year we witnessed the consequences of climate change first hand. The British summer saw temperatures of over 40 degrees and Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine left us exposed to volatile international markets, unveiling the true cost of our dependence on fossil fuels.
Evidence shows the phasing down of fossil fuel production being vital to preventing temperatures rises above 1.5 degrees. But the United Kingdom is the second largest producer of oil and gas in Europe and is actively encouraging greater North Sea extraction.
To get on track, the government should decline Equinor’s proposed Rosebank development, the UK’s largest undeveloped oil field. Burning Rosebank’s oil and gas would produce more than 200m tonnes of CO2, equivalent to running 58 coal-fired power stations for a year. It will be the deepest field ever developed in UK waters, cutting through a Marine Protected Area.
Rosebank won’t solve the energy crisis; 90 per cent of its reserves are oil, not gas, and the majority will likely be exported. Effectively more than £500m would be handed to the developers through the Investment Allowance in the current Windfall Tax (Energy Profits Levy), with the Treasury facing a £100m loss from the field. Most of this would go to Equinor, majority owned by the Norwegian government.
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