DUMFRIES and Galloway MP Alister Jack this week insisted he is 100 percent behind more oil drilling in the North Sea – despite heavy criticism of the move by environmentalists.
Mr Jack, the Scottish Secretary of State, visited Peterhead with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday where the PM announced the approval of hundreds of new oil and gas licences.
The decision has been taken to ensure our own supply of oil and gas here in the UK, however environmental campaigners and opposition politicians have argued that the move to expand fossil fuel production will damage the positve efforts being made to tackle climate change.
Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband accused Mr Sunak of lurching towards “a culture war on climate” to make up for “13 years of failed Tory energy policy”.
The Prime Minister, meanwhile, said it was “vital we bolster our energy security and capitalise on that independence to deliver more affordable, clean energy to British homes and businesses.”
Ministers have also stressed the need to use North Sea fossil fuel resources, especially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Alister Jack agreed, and argued that getting our fuel supply from abroad massively increases our carbon footprint.
He said: “The Prime Minister I went to the St Fergus Gas Terminal that produces 15 percent of the energy for the UK.
“I feel very strongly that we have to keep using our own domestic supply of oil and gas.
“And we know that the Independent Climate Change Commission have priced in oil and gas still being 15 percent to 20 percent of our energy supply – even in 2050, come net zero.”
Mr Jack also spoke about the creation of two more ‘carbon capture’ projects, which are intended to help the government meet its energy targets despite the continued reliance on oil and gas.
Carbon capture sees polluting fumes collected to either be used elsewhere or stored underground instead of going into the air, and is seen as an increasingly important tool in achieving net zero.
Alister Jack said: “The next two carbon capture projects take that last hundred million tons out of the atmosphere, capture it. and that gets us to net zero.
“But we still need our domestic supply, and to go abroad to get our oil and gas actually creates a much larger carbon footprint.
“Depending on where we go and what we’re getting, it can be anything between two and four times the carbon footprint.
“So, it’s better to get it from home, use our own, keep the jobs, take the tax revenues from it, and all the time have the transition towards net zero, which is what we’re focusing on.”