The UK oil and gas industry is responsible for £44 billion worth of damage each year, according to the latest research published by Friends of the Earth.
The claim has been made to coincide with provisional government figures released this week that are expected to show a small decrease in overall in greenhouse gas emissions in 2018.
Friends of the Earth has argued that much greater efforts are required for the UK to meet its legally binding emissions reduction targets and to honour its commitments under the Paris Agreement and is making the case that polluters must pay.
Mike Childs, head of research at Friends of the Earth, said: “We can’t ignore the fact that the energy transition is slowing.
"All the back-slapping from government on very modest improvements shows that they have not yet grasped the scale and speed of change needed. If we are to avoid climate chaos, we have to do much more: business as usual means more extreme weather, species extinctions and a grim future for young people.”
Friends of the Earth has outlined the case for an additional £22bn of funding to make housing energy efficient and fit eco-heating, improve public transport, support further development of renewable energy, and increase tree planting – and that a carbon tax on polluters should contribute to these costs.
Childs concluded: “A climate crisis is unfolding in front of our eyes with floods, wildfires and droughts now a regular feature of the news. We need much faster action if we are to avoid climate chaos.
“Wealthier countries like the UK need to act much more rapidly. This will cost money, perhaps up to £22 billion per year. But it will also bring enormous benefits for public health and the economy.
"The fossil fuel industry needs to pay up for the decades of damage done even as they continue to bank massive profit from the climate-damaging fossil fuels they extract and exploit. Enoughs enough, it’s time to pay.”
This article is based on a press release from Friends of the Earth.
Image: Gerry Machen.