This morning, Fossil Free London, Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion and Scientists for Extinction Rebellion supporters staged a demonstration to resist the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, which is having its second reading at the House of Commons.
Members of the groups came together at Parliament Square with banners and placards to voice their outrage against the Bill, moving to the gates of Parliament where MPs enter to vote.
If passed, the bill will allow fossil fuel corporations to bid for new North Sea licences every year. The bill comes after the Government and North Sea Transition Authorities already announced their plan to give out more than 100 production licences for new oil and gas in the North Sea.  
Whilst the Conservative government justifies continued extraction of new North Sea oil and gas, claiming it’s cleaner than importing gas from outside the UK and will improve the country’s energy security, experts have refuted both claims. The Government has now also publicly admitted that any gas and oil extracted from the North Sea wouldn’t actually go to UK consumers; it would be sold in the international market. 
The Government’s expansion plans for North Sea Oil and Gas comes as 2023 was marked as the hottest year ever recorded on Earth, smashing scientists predictions. Further too, the International Energy Agency stated back in 2021 that there can be new oil, gas or coal development if the world is to reach net zero by 2050; a target the UK Government is legally bound to. 
Energy Secretary Clare Coutinho has admitted new North Sea oil and gas won’t bring down household energy bills. In fact, analysis by Uplift has shown that the development of the Rosebank oil field alone will cost the UK taxpayer £3.75 billion in tax relief. 
Joanna Warrington, spokesperson for Fossil Free London, said:
“The UK Government’s Offshore Petroleum Licences Bill is nothing short of deadly. Pressing ahead with fossil fuel expansion plans in the midst of climate breakdown just makes us less energy secure and fuels the UK’s freak floods as more of our coastal homes drop into the sea. The government is making the interests they serve plain – it’s oily millionaires burning our house down for profit. ”
Pete Knapp of Scientists for Extinction Rebellion said:
“New oil and gas will do nothing to bring down our energy bills, or help with our energy security as most of the oil will be sold on the world market. New oil and gas is also incompatible with keeping within 1.5C. The government is either scientifically illiterate, is playing political games with our futures, or just doesn’t care, but, most likely – all three. After everyone agreed to transition away from fossil fuels at COP28 in December, what message is this sending to the rest of the world?”
Kush Naker, a Just Stop Oil supporter and Doctor of infectious diseases said:
“This bill shows us what the governments true priorities are, they are happy to sacrifice the lives of the British public just to maximise the oil company profits”
“This government is addicted to oil, even though it is killing us. It’s like we have got cancer, but the government is still forcing us to smoke more cigarettes.”
“Many Tory MPs know they’ll be kicked out at the next election, so they’ve become even more unhinged. They’re using these last few months to rush through more bills to please their oily billionaire chums in a desperate hope they’ll be offered jobs once they lose their seats. It’s pure greed.”
- North Sea Bill’s Carbon Emissions Test is a ‘Smokescreen’ And ‘Makes No Sense’ — Experts – DeSmog: https://www.desmog.com/2024/01/08/north-sea-bills-carbon-emissions-test-is-a-smokescreen-and-makes-no-sense-experts/
- Hundreds of new North Sea oil and gas licences to boost British energy independence and grow the economy – Government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hundreds-of-new-north-sea-oil-and-gas-licences-to-boost-british-energy-independence-and-grow-the-economy-31-july-2023
- UK government admits Rosebank oil will not be kept in UK to boost energy security – The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/jan/04/uk-government-admits-rosebank-oil-will-not-be-kept-in-uk-to-boost-energy-security
- ‘Off the charts’: 2023 was hottest year ever recorded globally, US scientists confirm – The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/jan/12/2023-hottest-year-record-us-scientists
- No new oil, gas or coal development if world is to reach net zero by 2050, says world energy body – The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/18/no-new-investment-in-fossil-fuels-demands-top-energy-economist
- Climate Change Act 2008: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents
- Energy secretary admits Rishi Sunak’s North Sea oil expansion plans ‘won’t bring bills down’ – The Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/energy-bills-oil-gas-sunak-net-zero-b2442312.html
- UK set to make a huge loss if Rosebank is approved – Stop Cambo: https://www.stopcambo.org.uk/updates/uk-set-to-make-a-huge-loss-if-rosebank-is-approved
- For further information, please contact Rosie at [email protected] or 07713 046453.
- Photographs and video available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1bYLlo7waRplFDcTgM6a3f9ZlhhQfckpb?usp=drive_link, please credit Zoe Broughton.
- Fossil Free London is a grassroots climate group campaigning for a London beyond fossil fuels, imagining a cleaner, greener city for residents and for people worldwide who are experiencing the loss and damage of climate crises made in London. Instagram: @fossilfreelondon Twitter: @fossilfreeldn.
- More photos of Fossil Free London actions are here and can be used in your journalism with credit at any time without prior permission: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1jLv6nfWoi08USM9ANE4M41PugUYY3a25
- Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
- Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects.
Just Stop Oil ‘Blue Lights’ policy: our policy is, and has always been, to move out of the way for emergency vehicles with siren sounding and ‘blue lights’ on.