The United States is not the only Western nation facing an energy crisis of its own making due to a decline in domestic oil and gas exploration.
Claire Coutinho, the United Kingdom’s energy secretary, recently sounded the alarm about Britain’s unsustainable trajectory, noting oil and gas production in the North Sea will be cut in half by 2030 if current trends continue.
That would make the U.K. “subservient to foreign regimes,” she warned, while “decimating the same people and communities that we need to come with us on this green transition journey.”
Coutinho, a conservative official appointed to her current post last month, echoed the concerns of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who scaled back the United Kingdom’s zero-emissions policy in favor of expanded energy exploration in the North Sea.
Only the Conservatives can deliver energy security with an ambitious yet practical approach to tackling climate change.
— Claire Coutinho MP (@ClaireCoutinho) October 9, 2023
Although he had previously defended the ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and prohibiting the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, the prime minister acknowledged that such a plan would likely backfire.
“The risk here to those of us who care about reaching net zero, as I do, is simple,” he said.
“If we continue down this path, we risk losing the consent of the British people. And the resulting backlash would not just be against specific policies but against the wider mission itself meaning we might never achieve our goal. That’s why we have to do things differently.”
Oil and gas production in the U.K. hit a record low of just 38 million metric tons last year and, without the approval of new drilling, is on course to reach a depth of 22 million metric tons by the end of the decade.
Meanwhile, critics of the Biden administration’s policies, which involved halting new oil and gas leases on public land, are urging for a return to the energy independence promoted by former President Donald Trump.
Earlier this year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) denounced the left’s “war against domestic energy” during a speech on the chamber floor.
“America spent decades working toward affordable, reliable energy independence,” he said. “And Democrats have tried to reverse it all. Less exploration for American oil and gas; more dependence on immoral Chinese supply chains.”