Eco-Activists May Undermine Energy Security, Increase Emissions: UK Industry Body

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
May 24, 2022 Updated: May 24, 2022

Environmental activists could undermine the UK’s energy security, increase its reliance on foreign imports, and consequently increase emissions, Britain’s leading offshore energy body has warned.

Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) said that protests and publicity stunts by climate activists may deter further oil and gas investment in UK waters, making the country increasingly dependent on other countries for energy, which could include Russia.

Addressing the OEUK’s annual conference in Aberdeen on Tuesday, Chief Executive Deirdre Michie criticised groups like Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, and Greenpeace for causing “months of disruption, protests, and legal actions.”

She said, “It’s no irony to say that we are aligned with their long-term vision of a low-carbon UK, but we do disagree with their approach as to how we get there, because the actions they’ve been taking—headline-grabbing but damaging—are another risk to investor confidence.”

Michie said it “will take time” to change the UK’s current reliance on fossil fuels and “for some decades to come, much of our energy will inevitably come from oil and gas.”

She suggested that, for the foreseeable future, the choice is between domestic production and reliance on foreign imports.

“Of course we do have a choice as to where that oil and gas comes from. We could cut production and increase imports, intensifying our reliance on other countries. But, as the Ukraine crisis shows, that’s not a great option,” she said, adding, “Or we could instead choose to invest in the oil and gas resources in our own backyard.”

Michie said, if pressure groups were “to get their way,” it would make the UK more dependent on other countries for oil and gas, which would “destroy tens of thousands of other jobs.”

“It would cost our country and consumers billions of pounds in import bills,” she continued.

“And here is the irony—it would actually increase global emissions as we would have to import fuels with a higher carbon footprint rather than use what we have produced locally.”

OEUK’s argument was rejected by climate groups. A spokesman for Greenpeace UK said, “It’s our dependence on fossil fuels that’s undermining our energy security, not the activists highlighting the problem.”

In a statement, Just Stop Oil members said, “The oil and gas industry can squeal all they like but either the industry dies or we all perish.”

Last year campaigners from Insulate Britain—who want the government to insulate every home in Britain in order to reduce energy use and carbon emissions—blocked the M25, the orbital motorway around London, and several other roads in order to make their point.

Extinction Rebellion also blocked bridges in central London in order to put pressure on the government to speed up its climate change agenda.

Just Stop Oil, which demands the UK government end all new oil and gas projects in the country, began blockading fuel terminals on April 1, leading to over 1,000 arrests.

On May 10, the government unveiled a new Public Order Bill which would introduce tougher restrictions on demonstrations in England and Wales.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said on May 9 the government is determined to stop protesters bringing Britain to a “grinding halt” and said, “The law-abiding, responsible majority have had enough of anti-social, disruptive protests carried out by a self-indulgent minority who seem to revel in causing mayhem and misery for the rest of us.”

Chris Summers and PA Media contributed to this report.