On Thin Ice

Published by Oil Change International

March 2024

Download the full report.

For the first time ever, a new report has developed a set of benchmarks for rating North Sea countries’ oil and gas production policies by their level of alignment with the Paris Agreement. By assessing the oil and gas policies of all North Sea countries (Norway, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark), we reveal that none are aligned with the Paris Agreement, nor are contributing their fair share towards the global transition off of fossil fuels.

The report, titled, Troubled Waters: How North Sea Countries are Fueling Climate Disaster, also reveals that 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. Far from being on track to phase out production in the 2030s, the region could still be extracting significant levels of oil and gas in 2050, particularly in the UK and Norway.

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.
  • 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.

We recommend that all five North Sea countries align all policies with a 1.5°c scenario. Of the 11 benchmark categories we present, we most urgently recommend these governments to stop approving new development, establish and implement a Paris-aligned date to end oil and gas production, and adopt and implement just transition policies, in the next two to three years.

Click here to download the full report.


  • I am making a documentary about the story of East Timor’s oil and gas. Their biggest field known as Greater Sunrise is as yet un-exploited. The president, Jose Ramos Horta has said publicly that his country would need $100 Billion to leave it un-exploited. I wonder if there is a similar conjecture about North Sea Oil and Gas exploitation. What would it cost in dollar terms to leave it in the ground?

  • Please stop and end any development of
    Establishment of a Paris related date to end oil and gas production, and adopt and implement just transition policies,in the next two years.


  • Thank you for this information! I didn’t know that the situation was so bad.

  • The situation of these 5 European countries is the tip of the iceberg. The large producers, USA, Saudi Arab, Abu Dabi, Qatar, Nigeria, Angola, … all are expanding or planning to expand their production of oil and gas.

    The 1,5°C limit was not ambitious enough. Many scientists said so in 2015 and history has shown them right. 2.2 should have been chosen in order to avoid the catastrophes that we experienced since 2020.

    The only solution is stopping all consumption of oil and gas. We sill be forced to do so, because we cannot have the intelligence to organise it.

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