UK climate leadership comes a cropper in Shetland
Last month, the UK government was claiming to lead the world on climate change. Ed Miliband genuinely seemed to be working hard to get a deal at Copenhagen. But today Alistair Darling announced substantial tax breaks for oil companies wishing to drill off the west of Shetland. According to the FT, The Chancellor is offering £150 million of tax breaks per oil field in the region.
Darling tells us that we should “do everything we can to develop the oil and gas on our continental shelf”. Those defending Darling might point out there are also subsidies for renewables. But this somewhat misses the point. In order to avert dangerous climate change, we can’t just produce more renewable electricity on top of what we already have. We must leave some oil in the ground.
If the wealthy UK insists on extracting every last drop, then how can we ask others to do differently? How, for example, can we expect much less well off Ecuador to continue to support politicians who choose to leave their reserves untapped?
Alas, it seems, it’s back to backing big business as usual. How depressing.