North Sea Oil, DECC and Climate Change
This week DECC (that’s the UK Government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change) opened the 27th round of offshore petroleum licensing. This is a process of offering licences for offshore oil and gas exploration and production in the UK administered part of the North Sea.
Given the UK’s commitment to carbon dioxide emission reductions and the global agreement to limit warming to 2°C, do we need to spend time, money and energy exploring for more oil and gas to extract from the North Sea? If the limits imposed by the Earth system and our political system’s response establish a total amount of future emissions, isn’t it quite likely that existing, already discovered reserves of fossil fuels are more than sufficient? If in fact it would be very unwise to burn all the current reserves, why bother looking for more? George Monbiot made a similar point as the Government were approving new coal mines: Leave It In The Ground
It strikes me as odd, that neither the press release nor any of the other documentation associated with this new licensing phase even mentions the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production and inevitable combustion of the newly discovered oil and gas they are hoping for. This omission leaves DECC looking schizophrenic, with one hand attempting to meet onerous emission reductions whilst the other simultaneously desperately scratches out the last remaining fossil fuels available.