Only six weeks ago at the COP28 climate summit, he had the gall to claim that the UK is a leader (Picture: PA)
Rishi Sunak has clearly started 2024 as he means to go on.
He’d ended 2023 boasting that he’d reduced the national debt – a claim that was labelled potentially misleading by the Office of National Statistics.
Then began this year announcing that the backlog of asylum claims had been cleared – a ‘feat’ achieved simply by fudging the definition of what counts as a decision.
So much for his promises of leading a government with integrity, professionalism and accountability at its heart.
But the misleading statements he and his ministers are making on a bill due to be debated in Parliament this month have even more serious implications, not just for honesty in politics but for the future of our planet.
The bill in question is the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill which mandates annual licensing rounds for new oil and gas projects in the North Sea.
That may not sound like a huge deal but many of us believe it will demolish what little remains of the UK’s reputation on climate leadership, undermine our efforts to reach net zero emissions and do nothing to help families struggling with energy bills.
Homes around the UK have been hit with flooding (Picture: Getty Images)
And it is galling to see such climate-wrecking policy discussed when 2023 has just been confirmed as the world’s hottest year on record – news which one Tory MP on the BBC reacted to by saying ‘on the day London had snow’.
This bill, and the apparent lack of concern politicians have, shows just how vital it is to remove Rishi Sunak’s zombie government from power.
On top of that, this new legislation is being brought to parliament in the wake of devastating flooding across large areas of the country which scientists warn will happen more and more often because of climate change.
Ministers are quick to wheel out the usual platitudes when thousands suffer the disaster of flooded homes.
But ‘thoughts and sympathies’ are meaningless when the Government is pursuing policies which could indirectly make flooding worse in the future.
And what’s worse, he doesn’t seem willing to be fully honest about the impact.
Ministers claim that the Offshore Petroleum Licensing bill will improve the UK’s energy security – but I don’t believe that stacks up.
North Sea gas reserves are in sharp decline, though this Government seems determined to extract every last cubic metre.
Analysis of data since 2010 suggests that while the government has issued hundreds of North Sea licences over the past decade, the amount of gas that’s been discovered would last just nine weeks.
The Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill is simply a political stunt, a blatant attempt to stoke yet more division
The Tories’ energy security argument assumes that any new oil and gas which is extracted would automatically come to the UK. It won’t as it will be owned by global energy companies who will sell it on the international market to the highest bidder.
I want energy security for our country as much as anyone. But we will not get it by prolonging our reliance on fossil fuels which will keep us exposed to the geopolitical shocks that have forced up energy prices in the last two years.
Energy security will come from a green transition to renewable energy and a drive to cut consumption by properly insulating people’s homes – where the Government’s record has been lamentable.
This Bill won’t help with that, nor will it, as even Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho acknowledges, bring down prices for consumers.
Then there’s the claim that this Bill to promote more oil and gas drilling won’t negatively impact our transition to net zero.
More from Platform
Platform is the home of Metro.co.uk’s first-person and opinion pieces, devoted to giving a platform to underheard and underrepresented voices in the media.
Find some of our best reads of the week below:
Metro’s resident wedding agony aunt Alison Rios McCrone dealt with another issue this week, with a bride-to-be shocked at her mum taking issue with how intense she was in planning her nuptials.
Emily Vaughn shares her truly harrowing story of being groomed and trafficked from the age of 14, and how she rebuilt her life after being forced to have sex with over 1,500 men.
When Celia Chartres-Aris was given a brilliant new job, she thought telling them about her disability would be just a formality – but in fact her job offer was withdrawn when she told her new employers about the adjustments they would have to make.
After decades battling a stammer following childhood trauma, things reached a breaking point for Jonathan Blair, who had been so ashamed of his speech impediment that he hadn’t even told his wife about his condition.
No minister has yet adequately explained how we get to net zero by going in the opposite direction. The Government’s own advisors, the Climate Change Committee, said in their latest progress report that the expansion of fossil fuel production is ‘inconsistent with climate goals.’
The former energy minister Chris Skidmore, who was tasked with conducting a review on the Government’s approach to net zero last year, saw this Bill for the farce that it is – he resigned from the Tory party on Friday saying he could no longer support a course of action that is ‘wrong and will cause future harm’.
The Prime Minister’s promotion of more oil and gas production in the North Sea is not only illogical, it is deeply hypocritical. Only six weeks ago at the COP28 climate summit, he had the gall to claim that the UK is a leader.
It doesn’t seem like that to me.
The Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill is simply a political stunt, a blatant attempt to stoke yet more division and weaponise the climate issue in order to save Sunak’s own skin, a now familiar tactic by a desperate prime minister grasping at anything to try to stay in power.
It sends exactly the wrong signal at the wrong time, and actively undermines global efforts to address the climate emergency.
While Sunak started 2024 with dishonesty, I’ll start it by harder than ever to address the accelerating climate emergency – and drive this dreadful government out of office.
Share your views in the comments below.
It sends exactly the wrong signal at the wrong time, and actively undermines global efforts to tackle climate change.