For Immediate Release

Contact: Valentina Stackl, Oil Change International,

[London, England/Oslo, Norway] A comprehensive report released today by Oil Change International exposes the failure of the five major North Sea oil and gas producing countries – Norway, UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany – in terms of aligning its oil and gas policies with the Paris Agreement, posing a grave threat to global efforts to combat the climate crisis.

Despite being signatories to the Paris Agreement and recent COP28 decisions advocating for a transition away from fossil fuels, not a single North Sea country is on track to phase out their oil and gas extraction to meet the crucial 1.5-degree warming limit. The report, titled Troubled Waters: How North Sea Countries Are Fueling Climate Disaster, highlights that if treated as a single entity, North Sea producers would rank as the seventh largest oil and gas producer globally, just behind China, with devastating implications for our climate. This is the first ever benchmarking for North Sea countries’ oil and gas production policies by their level of alignment with the Paris Agreement.

These North Sea countries have a choice: either, they lead the world in a fast and fair phase out of oil and gas and fully fund a transition to renewable economies where everyone can thrive, or they will be left behind and seen as hypocrites. Investments in oil and gas infrastructure today have decades of repercussions, locking us into a dangerous high-carbon future. These North Sea countries rank among the oil- and gas-producing countries with the most historic responsibility and the greatest means to invest in a just transition. It is beyond time for North Sea countries to show the real climate leadership that they have both a responsibility and ability to enact.

Key findings:

  • None of the five North Sea countries are on track to meet the 1.5-degree warming limit set by the Paris Agreement or the COP28 decision to transition away from fossil fuels.
  • If the five North Sea producers were counted as a single country, they would rank as the seventh-largest oil and gas producer in the world, just behind China.
  • North Sea governments’ continued approval of new oil and gas extraction and exploration could lead to over 10 billion tonnes (Gt) of new carbon pollution, posing a significant threat to a livable climate.
  • Urgent action is required from North Sea Governments to phase out oil and gas production by early 2030s and transition to renewable economies.
  • The lagging oil and gas policies of Norway and the UK have the biggest potential impact on total global emissions. Without an urgent change in policy, Norway and the UK are on track to rank amongst the world’s top 20 developers of new oil and gas fields through 2050.

To align with a livable temperature rise scenario, these five countries must stop approving new oil and gas development, establish and implement a Paris-aligned date to end oil and gas production, and adopt and implement just transition policies, including paying their fair share to fund Global South countries’ transitions off of fossil fuels.


Silje Ask Lundberg, North Sea Campaign Manager at Oil Change International, said:
“The five major North Sea countries are at a crossroads: one path leads towards global leadership in climate action and green industries, where they take bold action to phase out oil and gas production that creates sustainable jobs and communities. The other path leads to catastrophic climate change, economic crisis, and the loss of status as climate leaders globally, as they cling to outdated practices while the world moves forward. The findings in this report underscore the urgent need for decisive action from North Sea governments. Failure to address these issues not only undermines international climate goals but also jeopardises the livability of our planet.”

Truls Gulowsen, head of Friends of the Earth Norway, said:
“We are not surprised that Norway ranks rock bottom among the North Sea countries analysed. Despite having all the tools in the world to ensure a just transition, our government’s choice is to continue to be Europe’s most aggressive oil and gas explorer. This is completely out of place, and totally unaligned with the Paris agreement and our climate responsibility.”

Tessa Khan, executive director at Uplift commented:
This government is set on squeezing every last drop out of the North Sea, yet we know we’ve already discovered more oil and gas than it is safe to burn. Continuing to issue new licences and approve new fields, like the enormous Rosebank oil field off the Shetland coast, is reckless vandalism. It will only worsen the climate impacts that we can already see and feel, whether that’s Spring arriving earlier every year or more severe flooding and frequent wildfires.

“The UK is in a tiny club of countries that are driving this crisis, for such little public gain. Most of what’s left in the basin is oil, the majority of which we export. New drilling won’t lower our energy bills one bit, it just makes oil and gas companies even richer. We urgently need a government that’s prepared to stand up to these profiteers and change course.”

Helene Hagel, Head of Climate and Environmental Policy, Greenpeace Denmark, said
“Denmark is responsible for co-creating BOGA, potentially the most important diplomatic initiative in global climate policy for decades. On this foundation, Danish climate diplomacy is doing an admirable and important job on the international stage. However, at the same time, domestically the government is about to allow for a new oil field to start production until 2047, the Hejre-field. This is a potential disaster and must be stopped.

“Opening new fields now will wreck our planet even further and jeopardise the credibility of BOGA. The government uses too many weak justifications to rationalise our failure to practise what we advocate on the global stage – actually phasing out oil and gas production. Instead, they are allowing oil companies to increase their production in the coming critical 10-15 years. We might be the least disappointing in a class of underachievers, but to be Paris-aligned, we need to stop increasing production and phase out production within 10 years.”

Hiske Arts, Campaigner at Fossil Free Netherlands, said
“Even amidst an unfolding climate crisis, the Netherlands is more focused on producing new gas fields, than on introducing serious and ambitious measures to quickly phase out gas. It sends– as one of the richest countries on the earth – the message that climate action can be postponed. The Netherlands and the other North Sea countries need to stop focussing on fossil solutions for this fossil problem, and act in accordance with the climate urgency.”

Constantin Zerger, Head of Climate and Energy Department, Environmental Action Germany, said:
“We are at a critical juncture where the choices we make today will determine the course of our climate tomorrow. As this report shows, Germany’s current trajectory is deeply worrying. The German government’s failure to comply with the Paris Agreement jeopardises not only our global commitments, but also the well-being of future generations. It’s imperative that we immediately halt all new oil and gas development, reduce oil and gas demand, and invest in sustainable alternatives. The current legal framework allows for fossil fuel extraction to be permitted without strong climate and environmental requirements. Fundamental legal reforms are therefore needed in Germany to reflect the current advanced state of the climate crisis.”

The report also highlights country-specific failures:

  • Norway: Norway is the worst of all five North Sea countries, and is rated as ‘Grossly Unaligned’ in seven of eleven categories.  Despite commitments made at COP28, Norway continues to exhibit poor leadership in transitioning away from fossil fuels, issuing new licenses to the oil and gas industry shortly after the conference.
  • United Kingdom: The UK is the second worst of all five North Sea countries. Current policies in the UK fall short of achieving the goal of staying below 1.5°C heating, with proposed legislation further weakening climate tests and increasing licensing rounds for oil and gas extraction. Instead of being a global leader on climate, the UK is at its worst point in decades and the UK’s lack of leadership is failing the country. 
  • The Netherlands: Contrary to transitioning away from fossil fuel production, The Netherlands is accelerating exploration and new production of oil and gas, posing a significant threat to climate stability, and the country continues to spend billions annually in fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Germany: Despite comparatively smaller oil and gas production, Germany’s reliance on coal and lack of policies to address fossil fuel extraction contribute to its low ranking in climate action. Instead of investing in diversification and renewables, they are increasing their LNG infrastructure as a replacement. 
  • Denmark: Denmark stands out as the country that has done the most to align its oil and gas policies with the Paris Agreement, setting an end-date for oil and gas production and canceling new state-initiated licensing rounds. Despite this, there are loopholes allowing new field development and potentially keeping Danish production above 2023 levels until after 2035, and Denmark’s phase-out date must be moved up to the early 2030s.

There will be a press conference this morning at 10 AM CET Zoom- RSVP Here.
A recording will be made available following the press conference.

One Comment

  • What is the use of making idle promise agreements, to curb the pollution of OUR PLANET, without stringent and enforceable Fines and Punishments, for those that renege on the very agreement they have committed too? It is a rhetorical question, but one that is self answering. STOP WASTING TIME AND MONEY WITH USELESS MEETINGS AND AGREEMENT THAT HAVE NO TEETH.
    Allan Weiss

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