There’s a dead cat, and it smells of carbon


The ‘Rishi Sunak helicoptering in to announce a carbon-capture project hypocrisy’ is a fine dead cat of a story.
Cynically positioned alongside news of his first family holiday abroad in four years, it’s clear that many ordinary holidaymakers in the same position will feel some sympathy for him. But it’s pure distraction.
The real story is Sunak’s decision to grant 100 new North Sea oil and gas licences – demonstrating an ongoing investment by the government in irreversible damage to the planet.
Firstly, 80 per cent of North Sea oil is exported. If we needed more, there’s clearly enough existing supply; simply redirect it to the domestic market.
And as for the gas – this was not, as advertised, a move that will ease household energy bills. Before the war in Ukraine, Russia provided just four per cent of the UK’s gas (most of it comes from Norway). Prices rose due to the war in Ukraine because they’re set by global traders. Will more gas from the North Sea mean cheaper domestic fuel bills? Unlikely. Rishi Sunak can’t force the licensees – many backed by multi-national companies – to sell it at a discounted price in the UK. They trade at the international prices.
In the face of this tidal wave of environmental vandalism, the announcement of the new carbon-capture project in St Fergus, Aberdeenshire, is like offering an egg cup to bail out an already-sinking ship.
In the same week that the Met Office announced that last year’s 40º-plus UK heatwave will be considered on the cool side within a few decades, and the UN declared July 2023 to be the hottest month in human history, the Tories are clearly not taking climate change seriously enough.
In light of this decision – and others like it – the UK’s Net Zero by 2050 target seems increasingly unachievable.
Meanwhile the recently reinforced commitment to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 seems more and more likely to buckle under pressure from the loony libertarian wing of the Tory Party that is really running the show.
Sunak’s commitment to meet our net zero target in a “pragmatic and proportionate way” but without “unnecessarily adding costs and burdens to families” is also a nonsense.
Even his own party chairman has admitted that his current policy will not take a penny off household bills. And neither will a continued commitment to oil and gas do anything to mitigate our reliance on fossil fuel oligarchs and dictators who do not share our democratic values.
Pat Osborne
North Dorset Labour


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