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The UN Has Condemned Britain
Sunak is a "climate radical," the world should learn from his mistakes.
You might think of Britain as a leader in the eco-movement. Solar farms are becoming increasingly common in its quaint countryside, its coastline is filling up with wind turbines, and it is one of the few countries investing in new nuclear power. In fact, the country loudly exclaimed it was a world leader in the race to net-zero at Glasgow’s COP 26. But dig a little deeper, and you can see that we are being helmed by an utter moronic, delusion, corrupt pocket-lining imbecile that is derailing Britain’s economy and its sustainable future. This hasn’t gone unnoticed, as the UN has labelled Prime Minister Rishi Sunak a “climate radical”. But what has Sunak done? And more importantly, why has he done it?
Let’s start with what Sunak has done. Over the past year, he has given the go-ahead for 100 new oil and gas licences (which allow companies to tap new oil reserves) in the North Sea. He has also opened Britain’s first coal mine since 2015, a decision his top climate adviser calls ‘absolutely indefensible’.
This is why United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned Sunak when he said, “The truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels” and that fossil fuel expansion is “moral and economic madness.” These statements firmly criticise Sunak’s fossil fuel-loving policies. More on why this is madness in a minute.
But Sunak doesn’t seem to see it like this, even though his scientists and advisers agree with the UN General Secretary. Sunak justified this fossil fuel expansion by saying, “It’s vital we bolster our energy security and capitalise on that independence to deliver more affordable, clean energy to British homes and businesses.” He went on to say, “Even when we’ve reached net-zero in 2050, a quarter of our energy needs will come from oil and gas.” To fight back against opponents of his policies, he said, “But there are those who would rather that it come from hostile states than from the supplies we have here at home.” When that wasn’t enough, he told broadcasters that this is “entirely consistent with our plan to get to net-zero” and that producing such energy domestically saves “two, three, four times the amount of carbon emissions.” Sunak even stated that carbon capture and storage investment will counteract the emission of all this new oil drilling. Sunak’s stance was echoed and backed by those in his party, such as Grant Shapps, the energy security and net-zero secretary, who said, “New oil and gas licences will drive forward our energy independence and our economy for generations … safeguarding energy bills for British families.”
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Now, this might shock you, but there isn’t a shred of truth in anything Sunak or Shapps said here. Every single statement is demonstrably false.
Let’s start with potentially the most egregious, Sunak claiming that carbon capture can counterweight this massive expansion in oil and gas. My previous article Can Carbon Capture Save The Oil Industry? demonstrated just how idiotic and incorrect this idea is. Put simply, carbon capture doesn’t have enough capacity and is too expensive to offset fossil fuel emissions at a meaningful scale. In short, carbon capture is not an alternative to decarbonisation. Dressing carbon offsetting up in this way is a well-known and highly frowned upon greenwashing technique reserved for the worst oil companies, so it is surprising to see a head of state engaging in it.
His claims that British fossil fuels will have a carbon footprint significantly smaller than foreign fossil fuels are yet again invalid. The vast majority of the carbon emissions from fossil fuels come from their use (through combustion), not their extraction, refinement or transport. So even if the UK extracted them more efficiently than others (which they don’t), you can’t possibly get the reduction in carbon emissions Sunak claims. To put this all into context, solar, wind, and nuclear have about 110 times smaller carbon emissions than fossil fuels! This is why the IEA said that investment in untapped fossil fuels needed to stop in 2022 in order for us to meet our climate goals.
Sunak’s claims that fossil fuels will make up a quarter of the UK’s energy mix by 2050 and that these licences will secure the UK’s future energy security is also utterly fictitious. According to IRENA and the IEA, by 2050, only 5% of our energy needs can come from fossil fuels; what’s more, that energy isn’t for the grid but instead for industrial processes which require oil to work. What’s more, at current rates, oil will run out by 2060, so these licences can’t offer extended energy security. Meanwhile, new renewable and nuclear infrastructure will last well past 2060, and renewables are by far the most independent form of energy, as once built, they require no fuel or external input.
Sunak’s and Shapps’s claims about these licences boosting the UK economy also fall short of reality. Renewable infrastructure is now cheaper than many fossil fuel equivalents. In fact, it is now economical to shut down some mid-life-cycle fossil fuel energy infrastructure and build brand-new renewables to replace them. Moreover, renewables have been shown to create more jobs than fossil fuels, which are also higher paying and higher quality (i.e. safer) than those of the fossil fuel industry. This is backed by the IEA, which found that every dollar invested in renewables creates three times more jobs than each dollar invested in fossil fuels. But it isn’t just the public and the economy that benefit from renewables support. Globally, the fossil fuel industry is subsidised around $5.9 trillion each year through explicit subsidies, tax breaks, and health and environmental damages from the government. Meanwhile, renewables only need $4 trillion invested in them by governments each year to meet our climate targets. This is why the UN General Secretary said Suank’s plans are both environmentally and economically bonkers.
Then there is the safety argument, which, weirdly, I haven’t seen anyone hold Sunak to account. You see, through mining and drilling accidents, pollution and even radiation exposure, fossil fuels have a far higher death rate per 1,000 TWhrs produced than any other form of energy. For every 1,000 TWhrs produced, coal kills 100,000 people, oil kills 36,000 people, and gas kills 4,000 people. The figures for renewables are far, far lower, with solar at 440, wind at 150 and nuclear all the way down at 90. That means renewables kill around 10 times less people than fossil fuels, even at their worst. Or, to put this another way, Sunak’s policies of favouring fossil fuel expansion will directly lead to the deaths of hundreds, possibly thousands of people over time.
At this point, I should point out that some members of the Conservative party have a few more brain cells than Sunak or Shapps. The former energy minister and Conservative MP Chris Skidmore says Sunak is not only on the “wrong side of history” but, more importantly, the “wrong side of a future economy.”
So why has Sunak ignored the scientific community and his advisers and thrown the UK’s environmental and economic future on the bonfire? He has shown multiple times that he can be competent and intelligent, so he surely understands his actions’ impact. Well, after a bit of digging, I may have found the answer: Money!
Sunak himself isn’t actually that wealthy, but his wife, Akshata Murty is, so together, the couple have incredible family wealth! Together, their net worth is just short of a billion. But Akshata got her wealth through shares in her father’s company, Infosys (which is valued at over $60 billion), and upon his eventual death, she will likely inherit yet more shares. So, her theoretical net worth is far north of a billion.
While Infosys is a tech company, it has ties to and owns shares in the oil industry, particularly Shell. Now, Shell is one of the main players in the North Sea drilling industry, so Rishi giving out these licences will increase Shell’s profits and, in turn, make his wife and himself richer through their Infosys holdings. So it seems that, at least in part, Sunak’s pro-oil stance is driven by good old corruption.
But the plot thickens. It turns out Infosys is also invested and actively taking part in the Russian oil industry and didn’t pull out or cease operations after Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine. Now, as Infosys is an Indian company, and India has taken a neutral stance against Russia. So their continued operation in Russia shouldn’t be surprising. But, it does undermine Sunak’s “But there are those who would rather that it come from hostile states than from the supplies we have here at home” when his family is profiting significant amounts of money from said hostile state’s oil industry.
With this level of conflict of interest and his blatant moves to line his own pocket, I think calling Sunak a radical is putting it mildly. He represents a substantial and imposing threat not only to Britain’s economy but also to the world’s ecological progress by legitimising oil-driven cronyism and undermining renewable technology whilst setting a precedent of anti-science policies. But the cracks are showing. Rishi’s approval rating is currently in free fall, and the British public is sick to the back teeth of the conservative party’s corruption and cronyism. What’s more, the UK is becoming the laughingstock of the international political scene, particularly after it shot itself in the foot with Brexit. So, hopefully, the British and the rest of the world will see Sunak’s bad example and learn from their catastrophic mistakes.
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