Whenever Greenpeace launches a new campaign, lots of people get in touch with questions.
Our latest oil and gas campaign was no different. It’s calling on the UK government to stop giving out permits for new oil and gas wells in the North Sea, and give workers a smooth transition to green industries – and calling on the Scottish government to back these demands
Lots of people are curious about how oil and gas drilling licenses actually work. They’re keen to know how we can quit fossil fuels when they’re so central to daily life. And some are worried about job losses, and they wonder whether other countries will follow our lead.
So we got Philip, our oil campaigner, to answer the most common questions people sent in. Here’s what he said.
Erm, what are oil and gas licences?
So if a company wants to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea, they need a licence. The body that gives these licences out is called the Oil and Gas Authority. Usually known as OGA, they were set up in 2016 to work with the fossil fuel industry to “maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas” 🤨.
OGA invites companies to submit applications for licences, which they then hand out in what are called “licensing rounds” (there have been 32 of these licensing rounds to date, the last of which took place in 2019). The average licence lasts for about 30 years, so each new licensing round ties us into a few more decades of polluting fossil fuel production.
In March 2021, the UK government announced it will continue giving out new North Sea oil and gas licences – to widespread criticism.
Don’t we still need oil and gas for things like cars and heating?
At the moment, we do, and that’s something that needs to change. Nobody’s suggesting we stop using all fossil fuels tomorrow, but to meet our climate goals, we need to rapidly wean ourselves off oil and gas and move to 100% renewable energy. With renewable energy now cheaper than fossil fuels, that transition is starting to happen. In May 2021, wind power briefly provided over 60% of the UK’s electricity for the first time.
As our demand for oil and gas continues to fall, the transition will become even easier. For example, the UK and Scottish governments are banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 so we’ll be needing much less oil for cars by then.