Climate change and net zero: UK must win global race for investment to build clean-energy future – David Whitehouse, Offshore Energies UK

There is no simple choice between fossil fuels and renewables, says David Whitehouse

I was at Number 10 Downing Street this week for a summit on energy security and the path to net zero with leaders from across the sector and the Secretary of State. As chief executive of Offshore Energies UK, I was representing over 400 firms, whose investments in innovative projects across the energy sector, from oil and gas to offshore wind, carbon capture and hydrogen are key to our energy future.

It was a fitting venue. Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, energy has been right at the epicentre of political debate. Around the world, we see new policies from governments to turbocharge energy investment, such as the Inflation Reduction Act in the USA and similar moves in Europe and China.

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This week’s renewed commitment by the UK Government to North Sea licensing, carbon capture projects and to update the fiscal regime is a welcome boost for energy security, growth and reaching net zero. Our democracy depends on open and at times fierce debate, and I always welcome the opportunity to contribute and to listen. But there also comes a time when we must find consensus on strategic issues that are critical to the long-term future of Scotland and the UK.

At a time in which the public finances are seriously challenged and we strive every sinew to get to net zero, we must build a consensus across all parties to nurture our homegrown energy firms and their workforce of over 200,000 workers. As we build that future, there is no simple choice between oil and gas on the one hand and renewables on the other.

The reality is that to safeguard energy security and grow our economy, we need both. By the mid-2030s, oil and gas will still provide for 50 per cent of our energy needs. By investing in homegrown production, we avoid costlier, less secure, and higher carbon footprint imports while supporting the infrastructure we need to make cleaner, more affordable energy in the UK, for the UK.

We have built an industry capable of creating a future built on clean energy. The UK is in a global race for the investment to make that future a reality and it is critical that it wins.

David Whitehouse is chief executive of industry body Offshore Energies UK



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