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Government official faces immense backlash over claims about gasoline, oil: ‘A new low’

His comments were slammed as “laughable.”

His comments were slammed as "laughable."

Photo Credit: iStock

One government official is reportedly facing backlash after his comments about the oil and gas industry seemed to deflect responsibility from its major players, sparking concern that the United Kingdom is not doing enough to phase out dirty energy

What happened?

According to the Guardian, Graham Stuart, the UK’s net zero minister, told members of parliament in November that “there is nothing fundamentally wrong with oil and gas” when it comes to their impact on the environment. 

“It’s emissions from oil and gas that are the problem and that we must focus on,” Stuart added

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This comes after government advisers cautioned in June that the UK was not on track to meet its pollution-reduction goals. Then in September, a drilling project in the North Sea’s Rosebank oil field was approved. 

A number of pro-environmental campaigners have called the focus on emissions a “distraction,” with Greenpeace UK political campaigner Ami McCarthy telling the Guardian that Stuart’s remarks were “laughable.” 

“To put the blame on demand from consumers, who have been left unsupported by this government, is a new low,” McCarthy said

Why are Stuart’s comments concerning?

As noted by the United Nations, dirty energy sources, like oil and gas, generate more than 75% of all heat-trapping gases and almost 90% of carbon gas pollution, contributing to an increase in the severity of weather events and child displacement

Stuart’s comments, however, raised concerns that the UK government would focus more on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology while empowering the gas and oil industry, as reported by the Guardian

Researchers are optimistic about CCS, and a number of companies are developing the technology

At this stage, however, a report by the UN found that phasing out dirty energy and switching to energy sources that don’t create pollution, such as wind and solar, are essential to healing our planet.

What’s being done about dirty energy?

The UN is holding the COP 28 conference from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12 in Dubai, where it will continue to formulate an updated action plan to combat rising global temperatures and aid people vulnerable to its effects.  

Stuart is slated to attend, and despite the minister’s concerning comments to MPs, the UK has been “expected” to advocate for the phase-out of dirty energies as it did along with 80-plus countries at COP 27 in 2022, per the Guardian.

The UK also intends to transition away from new gas and diesel cars, though those plans have been delayed until 2035.

“The UK has been and can again be a world leader in reducing emissions, but for that to happen, the government must rapidly end its political game-playing on oil and gas,” Robbie MacPherson, a political lead at the campaigning group Uplift, told the Guardian.

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