The UK recently approved oil exploration in the Shetlands
Huhne accused of 'hypocrisy' for promoting offshore oil in Scotland and Arctic
4th March, 2011
Climate change minister urges more urgent cuts to greenhouse gas emissions while allowing renewed push for oil in remote regions
Campaigners have criticised energy and climate change minister Chris Huhne for urging the UK to end its dependence on oil and gas at the same time as promoting the push for more oil off the Scottish coast and the Arctic.
In a major speech today, Huhne set out the economic imperative of switching more quickly to a low-carbon economy saying high oil prices could cost the UK £45 billion.
'I asked economists at DECC to look at how a 1970s style oil price shock would play out today. They found that if the oil price doubled, as from $80 last year to $160 this year, it could lead to a cumulative loss of GDP of around £45 billion over 2 years. This is not just far-off speculation: it is a threat here and now. And the faster we move to a low carbon economy, the more secure and stable our economy will be,' he said.
In his speech, Huhne also said the UK needed to do 'everything we can at home' to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 'The best thing we can do to help adapt to climate change is to stop it happening in the first place. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure,' he said.
However, campaigners accused Huhne of 'hypocrisy' in continuing to promote and push for deeper and deeper offshore oil drilling and approving plans to search for oil in the Arctic region.
The UK recently approved oil exploration in the Shetlands, which could see drilling at depths in excess of 3,000m. Huhne was also present at the signing of a landmark deal between the Russian state oil company Rosneft and BP, which will allow the company to start exploiting oil reserves in the Arctic.
'He's promoting oil and by turning up at the BP deal he's giving his approval to exploit the most pristine environment in the world,' said Greenpeace climate campaigner Vicky Wyatt.
'He's given quite a good rhetoric on the cost to the UK economy of its dependence on oil and the importance of a switch to renewable energy, but everything he's doing is in terms of oil drilling is pointing the other way,' she added.
Greenpeace recently forced a judicial review of Huhne's decision to grant oil drilling licenses in deep waters off the Scottish coast. The campaign group say the decision was 'unlawful' as the government had 'failed to carry out an appropriate assessment of the risks new drilling poses to protected habitats and species following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
BP oil spill: can environmental crime ever be made to pay?
Million dollar fines and compensation claims may dent the profits of BP and other companies admitting responsibility for ecological disasters but, on their own, are they enough of a deterrent?
Arctic oil spill could take 'year or more' to clean up
Russia and the US are leading the scramble for oil and gas in the Arctic, but Gulf of Mexico pollution highlights danger of oil spills say campaigners
Will high petrol prices help the environment?
High petrol prices mean less demand and less pollution, right? Not necessarily, finds Mark Jansen. Our relationship with our cars is far more complex...
Toxic dispersants in Gulf oil spill creating hidden marine crisis
More than 200 million tons of crude oil have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico since the rupture of Deepwater Horizon. The chemicals used to clean up the spill have received less attention but could have devastating long-term effects on the marine ecosystem
|HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Ecocide: making environmental destruction a criminal offence
Lawyer Polly Higgins is spearheading a campaign to have 'ecocide' recognised by the UN as an international crime against peace. But how will this work in practice?
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.