Alliance calls for decision to issue new licences for North Sea oil and gas to be withdrawn

Statement / comment
02 August 2023

The President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Lade Smith CBE, and 25 other health leaders have written to the Prime Minister calling for the decision to issue new licences for North Sea oil and gas to be withdrawn.

This is the full text of the letter from the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, which includes the College:

“We write to you as an alliance of health leaders deeply concerned about the impact that climate change and nature loss are having on human health and to urge you to withdraw the decision to issue new licences for North Sea oil and gas.

“Health workers are already seeing the consequences of ill health caused by high temperatures, extreme weather and pollution. For example, more than 3,000 excess deaths were recorded in England and Wales during the heatwaves between June and August 2022 and without adequate action heat-related deaths are expected to rise to about 7,000 a year by the 2050s.

“We are worried about climate change and the implications for our patients and the NHS. We know that others share our concern - climate change is the second biggest concern facing adults in the UK (74%), the rising cost of living being the main concern (79%).

“Ongoing investment and new licences for oil and gas are not the solution and undoes decades of UK leadership on climate change just when true commitment cannot be delayed. Instead, the government should focus on delivering its commitments to transition to renewable energy with a credible strategy for decarbonising electricity supply with increasing production of onshore wind and solar.

“Instead of issuing new licences for fossil fuels, an ambitious programme of retrofitting, insulation and clean heat generation in all homes and public buildings can reduce fuel consumption and cost. As well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, such actions create jobs, improve health, and if done in the right way through targeted subsidies can help alleviate poverty and the number of people using the social security system. A just transition away from fossil fuels will also improve the UK’s national energy security.

“The contrary approach of expanding UK reliance on domestic production of gas and oil will take a decade or more to deliver and do nothing to alleviate fuel poverty. It will further exacerbate the climate and ecological crises, and amplify public concerns regarding these.”

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