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UK continues green rollback with new oilfield approval

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Further criticism has been levelled at the UK government after regulators approved planning for the Rosebank oilfield, the largest untapped oil field in the North Sea.

Owners Equinor and Ithaca Energy were given development and production approval for the site, which could yield up to 300 million barrels of oil, despite widespread criticism due to the impact on the climate.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak praised the news, saying that, as we make the transition to renewables, “we will still need oil and gas” and “it make sense to use our own supplies”. However, many investment industry commentators disagreed.

“Approving a new oil field which will produce 200 million tons of CO2, while claiming to have taken net zero into account, is laughable,” said James Alexander, CEO of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.

“Last week, the government scaled-back its green ambitions with no scientific analysis of its impact, despite the Climate Change Committee warning we are already significantly off track in our decarbonisation pathway. This latest move comes the day after the International Energy Agency reiterated its view that no new oil and gas projects are needed.

“We have the opportunity to build a thriving economy, supplying the world with the goods, services and innovations needed for the future. Or, we can continue on our current, unsustainable path, while the world moves on around us.”

Meanwhile, according to Isabella O’Dowd, WWF’s head of climate policy, the decision flies in the face of the UK government’s promises to help solve the nature and climate crisis.

“Approving this development is taking us in completely the wrong direction – it will not tackle climate change or increase the UK’s energy security, and it certainly will not reduce household energy bills. All the Rosebank decision will do is line the pockets of oil companies that have made record profits on the back of an energy crisis.”

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