UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been caught in a potential conflict of interest with regard to his energy policies.

Infosys, an Indian IT firm established by Sunak’s father-in-law, secured a billion-dollar agreement with BP just before the prime minister issued new licences for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea. The Infosys-BP deal is reported to be the second-largest transaction in Infosys’s history.

Sunak claimed that the Infosys-BP deal was not a matter of public interest. However, The London Economic reports that Infosys has been awarded £172 million in public sector contracts in the UK. Moreover, one of Infosys’s major clients is Shell, whose CEO recently joined Sunak’s business council.

The North Sea oil approvals are notable in light of Sunak’s own commitment to lead the UK to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Sunak defended the new oil and gas licences, claiming that they align with the UK’s commitment to reach net zero. The prime minister argued that even after reaching net zero, the UK would still require oil and gas for a quarter of its energy demands.

Sunak’s aim is for Britain to rely on domestic sources rather than foreign energy suppliers with higher carbon emissions. Thus, he believes that having oil and gas resources at home supports the country’s plans to achieve net zero emissions.

Sunak’s assertions have been challenged by many, including some within his own party. MP Chris Skidmore, a member of Sunak’s governing Conservative Party, stated that the expansion of North Sea oil would endanger the environment and worsen global warming.

Image Source: Number 10, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets Japan’s Prime Minster Kishida, Image cropped.