FURIOUS environmental campaigners have accused the UK Government of "blatant climate change denial” after it confirmed over 100 North Sea oil and gas licences will be granted.

On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed that the raft of new fossil fuel projects will help the UK achieve its net zero carbon emissions goal by 2050, but this has been widely disputed.

July 2023 saw multiple global temperature records broken, as the mercury soared in parts of Europe, North America and China.

​READ MORE: Rishi Sunak announces hundreds of new oil and gas licences for North Sea

Environmental campaigners pointed out that burning fossil fuels is driving the extreme weather and causing deaths across the globe as Sunak signed off on over 100 new projects.

The UK Government has also been accused of “greenwashing” and backing oil giants and energy firms while claiming that the licencing round will lower energy bills.

“Burning oil and gas is driving extreme weather and killing people on every continent yet Rishi Sunak is gleefully encouraging the arsonists to go and put more fuel on the fire,” Mary Church (pictured below), Friends of the Earth (FoE) Scotland’s head of campaigns, said.

“By ignoring the huge harm caused by fossil fuel company greed and doing the bidding of the industry, the UK Government is blatantly in denial about climate breakdown.

The National: Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth, said the decision is 'disappointing'

“By committing to future licensing rounds on the same day, it's clear to see that carbon capture is little more than a greenwashing tactic by big oil to try and keep their climate-wrecking industry in business."

Hannah Martin, co-director of Green New Deal Rising, said that the UK Government was intent on “abandoning all pretence” about tackling the climate crisis amidst the hottest summer on record.

“But despite their desperate attempts to pull the wool over our eyes, new oil and gas licences won't make any difference to UK energy security or our bills,” she added.

“The only way to get energy bills to fall is to support people to insulate their homes with a mass programme of retro-fitting, get off oil and gas and invest in much cheaper renewable energy like onshore wind.”

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The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) also hit out at the decision and said that if the UK Government was serious about achieving “net zero in a pragmatic way” it would support renewable projects instead.

“Real energy security will be delivered by reinforcing our grid systems and sorting out planning delays so that low-carbon generation can be built quickly,” REA chief executive Nina Skorupska said.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace accused the UK Government of a “cynical ploy to sow division” with the climate as “collateral damage”.

“Just as wildfires and floods wreck homes and lives around the world, Rishi Sunak’s government has decided to row back on key climate policies, attempted to toxify net zero, and recycled old myths about North Sea drilling,” Philip Evans added.

The National: Greenpeace activists target Shell HQ in LondonGreenpeace activists target Shell HQ in London (Image: PA)

“Relying on fossil fuels is terrible for our energy security, the cost of living, and the climate.

“Our sky-high bills and recent extreme weather have demonstrated that. Rishi Sunak knows that any oil and gas from the North Sea will just be sold on the international market, making oil companies even richer at the expense of the rest of us.

“How will this help our bills exactly?

“If Sunak were serious about boosting our energy security while keeping energy bills down, he’d remove the absurd barriers holding back cheap, homegrown renewables and launch a nationwide insulation programme to tackle energy waste in our homes.”

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Tessa Khan, executive director of Uplift, said that the new licences won’t make “any difference” to UK energy security or household bills, accusing the government of “smoke and mirrors”.

She blasted: “Hundreds of licences have been issued in the past decade, but it has only led to a handful of oil and gas fields.

“The truth is that we have burned most of the UK’s gas.

“Even the head of the regulator issuing these permits admits that new licences will only make a difference “around the edges”.

The National:

“And what little gas is produced won't lower energy costs, a fact the government admits, as it will be sold back to us at market price.”

Khan (pictured above) pointed out that this winter will be worse than the last for millions of households as bills are still double what they were previously and the UK Government has stopped financial support for the most vulnerable.

She added: “Rishi Sunak needs to stop pandering to the global oil and gas companies that are profiting from the energy crisis and urgently needs to side with the UK public.”