The health of a nation’s democracy depends on the trust we have in our elected representatives. For many politicians, lying is now the default position, and this Government is stuffed with Ministers who cannot bring themselves to tell the truth – including Michael Gove and every single Minister in the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero when it comes to government policy on new oil and gas developments.

By all accounts, the Government is about to announce its final approval for Rosebank, a huge new oil and gas development in the North Sea. The Norwegian fossil fuel giant,Equinor (majority owned by the Norwegian Government) will be the developer. With reserves of around 500 million barrels of oil equivalent, it’s the U.K.’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field.

Here’s what the Government’s Press Release will say, with a quick explainer on the level of trust you can have in each of these claims:

  1. Rosebank is a huge, strategically significant project both for the UK and for Equinor.


  1. Rosebank will reinforce this Government’s energy security ambitions – helping to make the UK less dependent on energy sources over which we have no control.

A TOTAL LIE. Almost all of Rosebank’s oil will be exported, shipped directly from the platform to refineries for sale on the global oil market.

  1. Rosebank will help keep down consumers’ energy bills.

A TOTAL LIE. The price of oil is determined internationally. As a single asset, Rosebank will have ZERO influence on the volatility of oil prices in global markets.

  1. Rosebank will bring significant benefits to the UK economy.

A STAGGERING LIE. Equinor will only be able to undertake this complex and high-risk project because of an incredible £3.75 billion subsidy from the UK Government (roughly 90% of the investment required), a cost which will be borne directly by UK taxpayers. Equinor (which made £62 billion in profits in 1992) and its partners will take almost all the profit. If approved, Rosebank will therefore make the UK poorer and Norway much, much richer.

  1. Rosebank will create thousands of well-paid jobs for UK oil and gas workers.

PROBABLY A LIE. Equinor claims Rosebank will create1600 jobs, but most of these will be for the construction phase, and will not necessarily go to UK workers. An equivalent investment in renewables here in the UK would create far more jobs for UK citizens.

  1. Rosebank will have no impact on the commitment by the U.K.’s oil and gas sector to meet its own Net Zero targets by 2050.

A LAUGHABLE LIE. Equinor is promising to use electricity rather than gas to get the oil out of the ground to keep emissions down, but this will have only a tiny effect on net emissions.

  1. Rosebank will make it harder for the UK to meet its own (legally binding) Net Zero target…….(TRUE)….

but we will have ways of addressing that before 2050 through carbon removals.

A TOTALLY UNSUBSTANTIATED SPECULATION. The technology to do this is as yet entirely unproven at that sort of scale.

  1. Rosebank will have no impact on the natural environment.

A LIE. Rosebank will need a gas pipeline to be laid to Shetland, running right through a protected area of the North Sea, which will have a significant impact on precious marine life.

  1. Rosebank will not undermine the U.K.’s reputation as a global leader on climate change.


Those lying Ministers will be well aware of UNEP’s ‘Production Gap’ report, of the IEA’s ‘Roadmap to Net Zero’, of fhe IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report (which flags the importance of ‘early retirements’ of existing oil and gas assets), and of research by UCL and many other academics that there should be NO new oil and gas developments if we are to have any chance whatsoever of staying below that all-important 1.5C average temperature threshold.

When we read George Orwell’s 1984, a bit of us rebels against the idea that the citizens of any nation could be so stupid as to be taken in by something as grotesquely dishonest as ‘Doublethink’. We need to keep that rebellious spirit alive: Doublethink is now being used systematically by our Government to obscure the difference between night and day, between a “safe operating space for humankind” and supporting its friends in the fossil fuel industry for as long as it can get away with it, even if it contributes to runaway climate change.

We should all be enraged by this. On discovering the truth about Rosebank, the vast majority of young people are already enraged: they immediately understand that this project perpetuates our dependence on fossil fuels, which makes our Net Zero targets more and more unattainable, which will make the Planet less and less habitable in the second half of this century. THEIR century.

The rest of us should be equally enraged on their behalf. And for ourselves.

If Rosebank goes ahead, it will represent the greatest single betrayal of young people in this country that we have ever seen – and there have been many – which makes it a massive betrayal on the part of all those of us who are in a position today to help stop it happening.