Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am just going to talk about one new clause, new clause 29, which I oppose. It seeks to prevent further licences of North sea oil and gas. The reason I oppose it is that we have a plan for the decarbonisation of our economy and it is policed, if I can put it that way, by the Committee on Climate Change. In the path to net zero by 2050, we recognise that we have a continuing need for oil and gas at least until 2035, when more than 50% of our energy needs will still come from fossil fuels, and actually up to 2050 included, because it is net zero, not absolute zero. We have to have oil and gas, so let’s get it from the most efficient and environmentally friendly source. The most environmentally friendly source is Norway, but that is not an unlimited resource; the CO2 equivalent per barrel of oil there is about 7 kg. The additional oil and gas we use comes not from Norway but from Qatar; it is liquid natural gas and the CO2 equivalent per barrel there is 79 kg, whereas the figure for the North sea is 21 kg—a quarter the level of environmental damage per kilogram of CO2 equivalent. The consequence of closing down the North sea prematurely would be to increase emissions and make our carbon footprint worse. It would be the triumph of virtue signalling over the practicalities of decarbonisation.
It is logical on environmental grounds, therefore, to support new licences in oil and gas. But there are other arguments. There is the balance of payments—we used to talk about the balance of payments. In 2022, our trade in goods deficit was £63.9 billion. I would rather have our imports of oil and gas coming from the UK and not being imports at all, supporting our balance of payments.
There is the tax income. The Office for Budget Responsibility says that in 2023-24 we are going to get £10.4 billion of tax revenue from North sea oil. That pays for a lot of public goods. We should be supporting that, and we should be supporting business profitability and jobs, because that supports our communities. It also gives time for the phasing of what is described as the just transition to renewable jobs. There is an irony in that the proponents of new clause 30, led by Caroline Lucas, talk about just transitions, but it is this longer process away from North sea oil and gas, managing decline, that provides the space for a truly just transition to new renewables employment in this country. I do not support new clause 29 as a result.