It’s corporate myopia on steroids. That means these energy giants risk ending up with tens of billions in stranded assets that are no longer aligned with the Paris climate goals. At the same time, British industry risks repeating the mistakes made with nuclear power and missing out on one of the greatest technological revolutions of our time.
Instead, the oil and gas sector continues to overwhelmingly prioritize shareholder returns over green energy investments. In the first six months of 2022, BP spent just over £350m on national renewable energy projects. Yet he managed to find £5billion to buy back his own shares.
Shell posted a record profit of £8.2bn in the last financial quarter, more than 80% of which came from oil and gas. Renewables generated £344m over the same period, less than 4% of the total.
This half-hearted approach risks being made possible by a government seemingly bent on demonizing green energy as part of another front in its concocted culture wars.
The Truss government stokes anti-renewables sentiment in the mistaken belief that it is a vote winner. The final salvo should come from the new Environment Secretary. According to reports, Ranil Jayawardena is keen to ban solar projects on most agricultural land, on the grounds that it is somehow an obstacle to food production.
This is another dangerous myth that senior Conservative Party officials like to peddle. Solar farms take up just 0.1pc of UK land and they tend to be built on land that is either unsuitable for farming or peacefully coexisting with pastoral farming on the same land.
Yet the opposition to green power is not as deep as some ministers think. In a recent survey, more than three-quarters of Britons supported the use of new wind and solar farms to cut energy bills, including more than four-fifths of those who plan to vote Conservative in the next election and 84% who have voted Conservative in 2019.