What is Rishi Sunak's North Sea drilling plan and why is it controversial?

What is Rishi Sunak's North Sea drilling plan and why is it controversial?
North Sea drilling plan raises concerns on German island

Rishi Sunak has announced an expansion of oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.

Number 10 said hundreds of new oil and gas licences will be granted off the coast of Scotland to "boost British energy independence" and "reduce reliance on hostile states".

He said the move will create thousands of new jobs and said it was necessary to use these resources due to Russia's war with Ukraine.

Ahead of his visit to Scotland, Sunak said: "We have all witnessed how Putin has manipulated and weaponised energy - disrupting supply and stalling growth in countries around the world.

"Now more than ever, it's vital that we bolster our energy security and capitalise on that independence to deliver more affordable, clean energy to British homes and businesses.

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"Even when we've reached net zero in 2050, a quarter of our energy needs will come from oil and gas.

"But there are those who would rather that it come from hostile states than from the supplies we have here at home.

"We're choosing to power up Britain from Britain and invest in crucial industries such as carbon capture and storage, rather than depend on more carbon-intensive gas imports from overseas - which will support thousands of skilled jobs, unlock further opportunities for green technologies and grow the economy."

All good? Not quite. People are annoyed that this will impact climate change and plans to reach net zero.

With that in mind, people on social media reacted angrily to the plans:

Labour has proposed a block on all domestic new oil and gas drilling as part of its strategy to achieve zero-carbon electricity by 2030.

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband accused Rishi Sunak of lurching towards "a culture war on climate" to make up for "13 years of failed Tory energy policy".

The head of Oxfam Scotland, Jamie Livingstone, called the new licensing rounds a "short-sighted and selfish decision by the UK government" which "flies in the face of climate science and common sense".

He added: "The UN has made clear that we must end our global addiction to fossil fuels, so this decision sends a wrecking ball through the UK's climate commitments."

Mike Childs, the head of policy for Friends of the Earth, said: “Climate change is already battering the planet with unprecedented wildfires and heatwaves across the globe. Granting hundreds of new oil and gas licences will simply pour more fuel on the flames, while doing nothing for energy security as these fossil fuels will be sold on international markets and not reserved for UK use.”

What a palava.

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