Skip to main content
  • Overview
  • Jan '24
    Differences in support for oil and gas track political divides
  • Dec '23
    Legal challenge launched against Rosebank North Sea oil field
  • Nov '23
    Tracker data: Public oppose fracking, but it continues to polarise MPs
  • Making sense of public opinion on oil and gas
  • Oct '23
    Making sense of differences between the public and MP opinions on oil and gas
  • Tracker data: Public and MPs see climate action as best route to energy independence
  • Polling during Labour Party conference: There is support for removing fossil fuels from electricity generation by 2030
  • Sep '23
    Friends of the Earth release a map of fossil fuel extraction sites around the country
  • Labour Party confirms plans for GB Energy ahead of 2023 conference
  • Rosebank oil field given go-ahead by regulators
  • YouGov: There is a generational divide in support for more oil and gas extraction
  • Support for a loophole-free windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies sits at nearly 90%
  • More in Common: Oil & gas are no longer seen as reliable energy sources
  • May '23
    SNP voters back a ‘rapid’ move away from oil and gas – but are more evenly split on new exploration
  • Mar '23
    OFFSHORE documentary explores what the energy transition means for workers and communities around the North Sea
  • Platform report: The needs of offshore workers for a just energy transition
  • Oct '22
    YouGov tracker: Wind power continues to be the most popular form of energy generation
  • Feb '22
    Climate Change Committee: New oil and gas fields in the North Sea will create only marginal savings for households
  • Oct '21
    Government’s Net Zero strategy includes new oil & gas licensing
Topic

Oil & Gas

Filter content Please note: The page will automatically update when any filters are changed or set.
  • In Brief

    Since the 1970s, oil and gas has been extracted in the North Sea, generating energy, revenue and jobs on the East coast of Scotland. A managed transition away from oil and gas extraction in the North Sea is an inevitable part of reaching net zero, and public support for oil and gas as has long been dwarfed by support for renewables.

    The imperative of reducing emissions (and ultimately winding down oil and gas production), and the near-term need for oil and gas in the energy mix, is a tension that politicians find difficult to navigate: new licenses continue to be granted (for now).

    Central to this industrial transition are the views and livelihoods of the offshore workforce, to ensure that the transition is fair and ‘just’.

    Separately, there have been faltering attempts at ‘fracking’ for gas underground, which have met with persistent opposition from local communities and the wider public.

    How fast the transition away from fossil fuels happens will depend on political will and public opinion – this thread captures key insights on oil and gas.

  • Opinion Insight 17th January 2024

    Differences in support for oil and gas track political divides

    A survey of 2000 people (in Novembers and December 2023) as part of the DeepDCarb project, has found mixed views on oil and gas expansion, and differences which track political divides.

    30% were opposed to ‘Issue licences to permit new oil and gas expansion’, 30% neither supported or opposed new licenses (or didn’t have an opinion), and a slightly higher number (41%) were in support.

    But bigger differences were apparent when the survey sample was split according to voting intention. Expansion was supported by two-thirds of both Conservative and Reform voters (and only opposed by one in ten), while Labour voters opposed expansion (41%) more often than they favoured it (34%). The majority of Green and SNP voters were opposed.

    The findings mirror Climate Barometer data showing clear divides between left and right-leaning voters on oil and gas. But they also reflect patterns in wider research on the transition away from oil and gas, which indicate strong support for moving away from fossil fuels, alongside a willingness to accept the near-term need for domestic oil and gas.

    • Source: UK in a changing Europe
    • Authors: John Kenny, Andy Jordan, Lucas Geese, Chantal Sullivan-Thomsett and Irene Lorenzoni
    • Date: 17th January 2024
    Policy Insight 18th December 2023

    Legal challenge launched against Rosebank North Sea oil field

    The campaign groups Greenpeace and Uplift launched a legal challenge against Government plans to develop the Rosebank oilfield in the North Sea.

    The development is at odds with guidance from the Climate Change Committee, which has cautioned against the development of new oil and gas fields in the North Sea as inconsistent with the country’s net zero targets.

    The COP28 conference ended with a call for a transition away from fossil fuels – although stopped short of calling for a phase out (or even phase down) of oil and gas. In the space between global net zero goals, and the continuing need for fossil fuels in the short term, politicians and campaigners are shaping the pace and ambition of the shift away from oil and gas. Find out what the UK public thinks about transitioning away from fossil fuels here.

    Climate Barometer Tracker 30th November 2023

    Tracker data: Public oppose fracking, but it continues to polarise MPs

    Climate Barometer tracker data shows that there is significantly more support than opposition for ending fracking in the UK.

    A closer look reveals further details: by splitting the data according to party political support, there is a more equal division among Conservative voters on whether the UK should end fracking.

    But opposition to ending fracking is particularly high among Conservative MPs (55%). This stands in stark contrast with Labour MPs, 85% of whom support ending fracking. This makes fracking one of the most polarising aspects of the energy system among MPs – on many other issues (insulation, solar, offshore wind) there is much less difference between the representatives of different political parties.

     

    Climate Barometer Tracker 26th October 2023

    Making sense of differences between the public and MP opinions on oil and gas

    Support for oil and gas is low among the UK public. But in common with several other key areas of climate policy (especially onshore wind) Conservative MPs have a different view. Compared to the public – including Conservative voters – Conservative MPs are more likely to:

    • Favour expanding domestic oil and gas production, over investing in renewables (when asked to choose between the two)
    • Have a ‘net favourable’ opinion of oil as a source of energy
    • Overestimate how favourable an opinion the public, including Conservative voters, have of oil

    What explains this difference in perspective? One answer may simply be the formal position of the Conservative Party, which is to continue awarding new oil and gas licenses (whilst maintaining a commitment to net zero by 2050). Working backwards from the fact the party is committed to approving new oil and gas extraction, Conservative MPs may feel a tension in opposing oil and gas on a personal level (given that they have to represent this policy to their constituents).

    And although Conservative MPs overestimate how favourable their voters are towards oil and gas, they are aligned in a different way: Climate Barometer tracker data shows Conservative voters are more likely to oppose (48%) than support (16%) the ending of drilling in the North Sea for oil and gas altogether.

    Climate Barometer Tracker 19th October 2023

    Tracker data: Public and MPs see climate action as best route to energy independence

    Our polling of MP and public data across two waves (October 2022 and April 2023) asked respondents to indicate what they felt was the best way to eliminate UK dependence on Russian oil and gas.

    While there has been a slight dip between waves, the majority of MPs and members of the public still say that the best way to reduce UK dependence is to reduce our use of fossil fuels all together and instead expand our use of renewable energy (such as wind and solar.

    Approximately a third of MPs believe the best way is to increase the UK’s domestic supply of oil and gas through expanded drilling and fracking, but this is less popular with the public.

     

    Opinion Insight 9th October 2023

    Polling during Labour Party conference: There is support for removing fossil fuels from electricity generation by 2030

    YouGov polling in October 2023 (during the Labour Party conference) shows more support (50%) than opposition (31%) for decarbonising the electricity supply by 2030. Among Conservative party voters, the balance of support-opposition is reversed.

    Whilst this level of support is lower than that generally seen for renewables (which is typically more than 70%), the 2030 target is a policy goal that some industry figures consider ambitious and will require – as analysis by Public First into the infrastructure required to decarbonise the grid has shown – ‘hitting the ground running’ if Labour takes power at the next election.

    Policy Insight 28th September 2023

    Labour Party confirms plans for GB Energy ahead of 2023 conference

    The Labour Party has pledged to create Great British Energy, a new, publicly-owned clean energy company to make the UK ‘energy independent’ and deliver 100% clean energy by 2030.

    • Source: The Labour Party
    • Date: 28th September 2023
    Policy Insight 27th September 2023

    Rosebank oil field given go-ahead by regulators

    The BBC report that the controversial Rosebank offshore development off Shetland has been granted consent by regulators.

    Located 80 miles west of Shetland, Rosebank is the UK’s largest untapped oil field and is estimated to contain up to 300 million barrels of oil.

    Our tracker data shows that there’s more support for ending drilling in the North Sea than there is opposition – by a margin of almost 10%. However – in an example of a perception gap (explore more on this in our perception gap thread), at 76%, more Conservative MPs are strongly opposed to ending North Sea drilling – a higher percentage than Conservative voters (48%). Meanwhile, while Labour MPs are slightly more in favour of ending drilling than Labour voters (66% vs. 54%).  

    Opinion Insight 27th September 2023

    YouGov: There is a generational divide in support for more oil and gas extraction

    Polling by YouGov on behalf of Global Witness shows a lack of support for fossil fuel production, and a clear age gap in perspectives on oil and gas extraction.

    • Only 8% think increasing fossil fuel production is the best way to increase energy security.
    • Just 10% believe more oil, gas and coal is the best way to reduce energy bills.
    • 42% overall would prefer to wind down North Sea oil and gas production, compared with 33% preferring to exploit all economically viable supplies
    • Among those aged 50-64, support for oil and gas extraction was at 39%, and this was higher at 57% in the 65-plus age group.
    • Support for oil and gas extraction was much weaker among younger generations, with only 17% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 21% of 24 to 49-year-olds backing this option.

    Depending on which party (Labour or the Conservatives) is in power after the 2024 election, demographic differences like this may become even more prominent: a Labour government that secured the support of younger voters might be in a position to move significantly faster in terms of the social license to phase out oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.

     

    • Source: The Independent
    • Author: Rebecca Speare-Cole
    • Date: 27th September 2023
    Opinion Insight 22nd September 2023

    Support for a loophole-free windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies sits at nearly 90%

    Polling by Greenpeace found almost nine in ten people (87%) want to see a loophole-free windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies.

    Separate polling by Green New Deal Rising found 60% support for this policy when given a list of options for funding overseas climate finance commitments (the second most popular was a wealth tax on the richest 1%).

    • Source: Greenpeace
    • Author: Mal Chadwick
    • Date: 26th September 2023
    From the Climate Community 19th September 2023

    More in Common: Oil & gas are no longer seen as reliable energy sources

    For a long time, an argument made in favour of fossil fuels (and against supposedly ‘intermittent’ renewables) was that oil and gas could provide a secure, reliable source of energy.

    But as familiarity with renewables (and confidence in them) has increased, so have perceptions of the reliability of solar and wind power. At the same time, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the instability that subsequently rippled through the global energy system, doubts are growing among the public that oil and gas are in fact secure, reliable sources of energy.

    This is a significant shift – and could be what ultimately underpins a faster transition away from oil and gas. At a time of global insecurity, energy sources that can provide reliable (and ‘hoegrown’) energy become even more attractive. As Luke Tryl, UK Director at More in Common writes, message testing is showing renewables, not oil and gas, winning out in terms of being a secure and reliable source of energy:

    There has been a shift in how we view energy security towards renewables – message testing on anti-oil and gas arguments finds strong support for the idea they’re getting more expensive – & particularly for Loyal Nationals (Red Wall voters) the dependence on Putin worries people.

    Opinion Insight 15th May 2023

    SNP voters back a ‘rapid’ move away from oil and gas – but are more evenly split on new exploration

    Polling of SNP voters by the campaign group Stop Cambo found that 70% agree that the UK should ‘get off oil and gas as quickly as possible’ by ramping up efforts to improve energy efficiency and developing lots more renewable energy.

    In an example of the ambiguity that phrases like ‘as quickly as possible’ can sometimes mask, though, whilst 45% supported a ban on new exploration for oil and gas, almost the same number (39%) did not. Overwhelming support for greater investment in renewables among the public does not directly correlate with increasing opposition to oil and gas extraction.

    There is, though, widespread support for ensuring communities are ready and able to benefit from the transition away from oil and gas (62%) and that workers are given more assistance in the transition to green jobs (86%).

    From the Climate Community 22nd March 2023

    OFFSHORE documentary explores what the energy transition means for workers and communities around the North Sea

    OFFSHORE is an independent documentary that explores what the coming energy transition means for workers and communities around the UK North Sea.

    The film looks at how communities and regions have been impacted by past industrial decline, the risks workers face in an increasingly precarious industry and how they can organise for the future.

    • Source: Vimeo
    • Date: 22nd March 2023
Loading more posts...

Add Feedback