The Government’s announcement that it will allow oil and gas companies to drill more wells in the North Sea did not go down well with environmental campaigners. Environmentalists argue that enough fossil fuels to ruin the climate have already been found. UK ministers counter by saying that its plans form part of a careful transition away from fossil fuels and that, in any event, no licenses will be granted unless proposals pass a “climate compatibility” test.
The Government, of course, does have the additional responsibility of trying to protect 40,000 North Sea jobs – a cause they have already pledged to support through a joint investment of £16bn to pursue greener options. This, in return for the industry promising to halve carbon emissions by the end of the decade. In other words, it is a trade-off.
It doesn’t help that Denmark and France have both promised to ban new exploration in the same stretch of water. However, the UK Government has made it clear that, if it feels its objective of establishing this country as “a nation of clean energy” comes under threat, the licensing round will simply not go ahead.
Looking at the broader picture, it is inconceivable that Britain would allow itself to fail in a year when the COP26 meeting is scheduled to take place on home soil. Apart from Government embarrassment, the penalties to the oil and gas companies could be severe.
BlackRock, the world’s largest investor with around £6.4trn of assets under management, has threatened to “disinvest” in companies which it considers have taken inadequate steps to set targets and reduce carbon emissions. Specifically, the institution wants to see UN-backed, science-based emission reduction programmes and, just to show that it means business, it voted against the management of 69 carbon-intensive companies in 2020. The mission to create a cleaner world is starting to grow some sharp teeth.
Having achieved carbon negative status ourselves last year, UnitBirwelco’s recent agreement to partner with Jericho Energy Ventures to provide engineering support, procurement, manufacturing and fabrication of its Hydrogen boiler (cleanH2steam DCCTM) – in conjunction with its subsidiary Hydrogen Technologies Inc. – is part of that process. Our respective organisations share the same corporate values and goals and we are excited to be part of what we anticipate will be a long-lasting alliance.
In the meantime, the international drive towards creating a cleaner planet has become unstoppable and irreversible. With Brexit behind us and COVID-19 gradually coming under control, the opportunities to recover are there to be taken.