Ahead of the autumn statement next week (Report, 18 November), we urge the chancellor not to answer calls from oil producers in the North Sea for another round of government subsidies. Instead, Philip Hammond should put an end to the taxpayer-funded bonus for oil and gas companies and set the UK on a pathway to a more prosperous, clean energy future. If the world is to deliver on the Paris agreement on climate change, most of the known oil, gas and coal reserves must remain untapped. Yet in spite of warnings about risks of stranded assets from the governor of the Bank of England, the UK continues to promote the production of yet more oil and gas.
The tax breaks introduced by former chancellor George Osborne in 2015 and 2016 have been costly. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the Treasury will hand oil and gas companies a net £4.8bn in rebates between 2015 and 2021. These tax breaks have also failed to protect jobs. Even with current subsidies, North Sea oil and gas operators expect to lay off one in six UK-based workers this year. By contrast, a recent UK Energy Research Centre study found that similarly sized renewable energy projects create 10 times more jobs than their fossil fuel counterparts.