PESGB Evening Lecture: July 2021

Speakers: Michael Tholen & Natalie Coupar - OGUK . Topic: Driving Net Zero - Policy Implications, Practical Consequences and Public Attitudes


13th July 2021

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Speakers: Michael Tholen, Sustainability Director and Natalie Coupar, Communications Director – OGUK

Driving Net Zero – Policy Implications, Practical Consequences and Public Attitudes

Since the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report “Net Zero – The UK contribution to stopping global warming” [1]  was published in May 2019, the country’s energy policy has undergone a period of unprecedented change. The three objectives of energy policy have traditionally been affordability, security of supply and environmental impact. Since 2019, the overarching objective of achieving a net zero economy by 2050 has been overlaid, and the Prime Minister’s recent Ten-Point Plan provides a clear summary of the energy policy direction. [2]

During the second half of 2020, there were a range of associated major energy-related announcements, policy papers and consultations, as set out below, which will reshape the UK energy market. The pace of change will continue to be rapid during 2021, as the government prepares to host COP26. The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry will play its part by continuing to deliver secure and affordable energy products to millions of households, businesses and communities while helping drive the transition towards a low carbon future.

Given the importance of the policies launched over the last three months and the initiatives to come, OGUK offers an assessment of the proposals, particularly considering where there are opportunities to accelerate progress or where further intervention may be needed to deliver the intended outcomes at the required pace.

The UK oil and gas sector currently provides 45 per cent of the UK’s total energy needs and its supply chain is a global leader in energy technology. The changing sector has been a cornerstone of the UK economy for decades and committed to the government’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050 in Roadmap 2035: a blueprint for net zero, launched in 2019. [3] The sector is already in action, investing in many of the emerging energy opportunities. In March 2021, the UK Government announced the details of the North Sea Transition Deal (NSTD) as discussed within the Energy White Paper. [4] The first of its kind by any G7 country, the North Sea Transition Deal looks to accelerate the country’s net zero journey, reducing UK emissions, prioritise UK energy and support energy jobs in communities across the UK. [5]

The environment remains a key concern for the public alongside a recovery from the pandemic which supports jobs and economic growth. [6] This is a view reflected in consistent polling and shared by government. Ensuring public support for the extensive changes required to achieve net zero is therefore critical for all governments, public agencies and industries.

Through a managed transition, the UK oil and gas sector can play a key role in securing a cleaner future, developing homegrown greener energy, reducing reliance on imported oil and gas and supporting jobs and developing new careers and opportunities.

OGUK is the leading representative organisation for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. Our membership includes over 400 organisations with an interest in the UK’s upstream oil and gas and other energy sectors.


[1] UK Government, “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”
[2] OGUK, “Roadmap 2034 – A Blueprint for Net Zero”
[3] UK Government, “Energy White Paper – Powering our Net Zero Future”
[4] UK Government, “North Sea Transition Deal”
[5] UK Government, “North Sea Transition Deal”
[6] YouGov, “Issue Tracker”



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