Labour has announced its intention to initiate a parliamentary debate on energy bills and energy independence. The move comes amidst increasing tension over PM Rishi Sunak’s abandonment of his Net Zero pledges.
As Labour forces the energy debate, Sunak’s government is expanding offshore oil drilling. The government introduced the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill in Parliament on Wednesday, arguing that it would have a positive impact on the UK’s economy and environment.
The bill was introduced a few days after Sunak issued 27 new oil permits in the North Sea.
While energy bills have decreased since last winter’s peak, they still remain high compared to historical levels. 68 percent of Brits say that the government needs to take more action to cut energy bills.
Business Green reports that Labour will use the debate to present its strategy for reducing the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels.
The problems with boosting oil production
Experts have noted that increasing domestic production has limited impact on energy security, as the North Sea’s fossil fuel resources are sold by private companies in international markets. The UK produces less than 1 percent of the world’s oil.
Even Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho has conceded that her government’s expansion of the oil sector would not necessarily result in lower energy bills.
The UK government states that domestic oil and gas production can reduce reliance on high-emissions imports. New licensing rounds for oil and gas projects will only proceed if the UK imports more than it exports and if domestic gas production has a lower carbon footprint compared to imported liquified natural gas (LNG).
However, critics argue that this approach fails to consider the relatively high carbon emissions associated with UK oil production. In addition, Norway (the primary gas supplier to the UK) produces gas with significantly lower emissions than UK projects.
Why renewables are the solution
Labour is pushing the government to become much more aggressive in its embrace of renewable energy. Energy experts are increasingly convinced that this is the right approach. Solar energy in particular offers a solution to the energy crisis.
A new report from Germany estimates that 75 percent of Europe’s single-family homes could be energy self-sufficient by 2050 through the use of solar panels.
In addition, the UK offers tremendous solar generating capacity in spite of its cool and cloudy climate. The UK receives the same amount of solar radiation as Germany, one of the world’s top solar energy producers.
Lastly, solar energy reduces Britain’s dependence on Russian oil and gas. This dependency was the primary reason why UK energy bills skyrocketed in 2022.