Just Stop Oil

Just Stop Oil’s Response To The Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you for the reply to our letter written by Graham Stuart on your behalf (which we enclose below). 

In the letter, your government has sought to justify investment in new fossil fuel supply projects but has done so without reference to the expert advice from the International Energy Agency, the United Nations and the entire scientific community that such investment is inconsistent with keeping heating below +1.5°C — the point at which the UK government admits we will “lose control” of our climate.

You are clearly aware that investment in new fossil fuel supply projects jeopardises the future of humanity, but you are incentivising it anyway.

While Graham Stuart’s response refers to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment, it has failed to fully reflect the implications of that report, as summarised in the Synthesis published yesterday and signed off by your government. 

In launching the report UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said:

“This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts- everything, everywhere, all at once.”

Specifically, he called on developed countries to commit to reaching net zero “as close as possible to 2040” and outlined a number of actions that must form part of the acceleration agenda including:

“Ceasing all licensing or funding of new oil and gas – consistent with the findings of the International Energy Agency.”

You are leading a government that has singularly failed to take any meaningful steps to reduce demand for fossil fuels and whose climate change strategy has been declared unlawful by the High Court. 

You are leading a government that has seen millions of people reduced to poverty by your failure to rein in the excess profits of the oil and gas industry. 

You are leading a government that is in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. How else do you explain the decision to licence over 100 new oil and gas projects after being advised by the scientific community that to do so would push the 1.5C limit out of reach? 

Licensing new fossil fuels is signing a death warrant for millions, for young people, for whole populations in small island states and for the poor in the global south. It is genocidal. What else can you call planning for the destruction of countless millions of people? As the scale of this betrayal becomes clearer, you and your government will be held to account for the crime of genocide.

Supporters of Just Stop Oil will take reasonable, proportionate measures in defence of our young people, and all those on the frontline of climate collapse in the UK and around the world. We will do so until the UK government makes a statement that it will immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Failure to do so is to abandon 1.5˚C, which is humanity’s lifeline, and with it any hope of a liveable future for all.

Yours sincerely,

Just Stop Oil.


Letter from Rt Hon Graham Stuart MP

Rt Hon Graham Stuart MP
Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
Department for Energy Security & Net Zero
1 Victoria Street

Just Stop Oil
[email protected]

Our ref: MCB2023/06134

10 March 2023

Dear Just Stop Oil,

Thank you for your letter of 14 February, addressed to the Prime Minister, regarding fossil fuel production. Your correspondence has been passed to this Department and I am responding as this matter falls under my Ministerial portfolio.

I am grateful to you for sharing your thoughts on this matter. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report showed that to limit global warming to 1.5C, carbon dioxide emissions must peak before 2025, halve by 2030 and reach net-zero by mid-century. Total greenhouse gas emissions follow a similar trajectory, but slightly later. These actions must include a rapid shift away from fossil fuels.

The report shows that to limit warming to 1.5°C means we need to reduce our use of coal, oil, and gas, by 95%, 60%, and 45% respectively by 2050, and reduce by 76% our consumption of unabated coal by 2030. In addition to strong and fast mitigation of greenhouse gases, all pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C project the use of greenhouse gas removal

The UK still needs oil and gas for heating, cooking, transport, to power its industries, and as a key part of Great Britain’s electricity generation during the energy transition. Currently around half of the UK’s demand for gas is met through domestic supplies; however, the UK Continental Shelf is a mature oil and gas basin, where production is naturally declining. In meeting net zero, the UK’s use of both these fuels is also set to reduce significantly; it is likely that the UK will see its gas consumption reduce by over 40 per cent by 2030, and by 2050 it may be using just a quarter of the gas that it uses now.

Even with declining demand, the natural decline of many of the UK’s offshore fields means that the UK is likely to remain a net importer of both oil and gas. A faster decline in domestic production would mean importing more oil and gas. The production of natural gas from the UK Continental Shelf creates less than half as much greenhouse gas as imported liquefied natural gas.

The North Sea Transition Authority launched a new licensing round for oil and gas following the climate compatibility checkpoint, in support of energy security. The UK is also working to reduce the emissions of its offshore oil and gas further, by driving rapid industry investment in electrifying offshore production. Through the North Sea Transition Deal industry has
committed to early targets for reducing offshore production emissions with 10% reductions by 2025, 25% reductions by 2027 and 50% reductions by 2030.

A gradual decline in oil and gas production does not mean a decline for the UK’s offshore industries. The North Sea will still be a foundation of the UK’s energy security in decades to come, although focussed on an increasingly wide range of new low-carbon energy technologies including carbon capture usage and storage, offshore wind and hydrogen production.

The Government is committed to phasing out unabated coal from electricity generation by 2024. Demand for new coal licences has fallen away as a consequence and the coal extraction industry in the UK is in decline. However, although coal will soon no longer be part of our electricity system, there may continue to be domestic demand for coal in industries such as steel and for heritage railways as well as for domestic purposes. The current licensing regime leaves room for projects to come forward that could potentially meet that demand.

Any proposals for new coal mining projects would be assessed in accordance with the current statutory requirements. To operate a coal mine an operator needs relevant rights and permissions, including planning permission, a licence from the Coal Authority and to notify the Health and Safety Executive; and for projects in Wales, approval of Welsh Government ministers.

Thank you again for taking the time to write. I hope you find this response useful.

Yours ever,

Graham Stuart