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Roadmap 2035: En route to COP26

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OGUK executive adviser Sophie Guy-Pearson explains how Roadmap 2035 informs industry conversation ahead of COP26 later this year.

Vision: a word interpreted in many ways but put simply, it’s the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination and wisdom. As the UK prepares to host the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this November, we’re doing all we can to help others see and understand our industry’s crucial contribution to delivering a net-zero economy.

The UK has a clear opportunity to be an energy world leader – developing, producing and using secure and affordable domestic energy, while being at the frontier of innovation for lower-carbon technologies.

We’ve spent the past year or so developing Vision 2035 into Roadmap 2035 to make sure what we visualise becomes a reality. It’s about our industry supporting an accelerating energy transition through our people, expertise and infrastructure, while meeting as much of our country’s oil and gas needs from home-produced resources.

In 2019, almost 20 companies hosted Vision roadshows and over 5,000 people across the sector joined the conversation about the exciting future of our industry through the energy transition. In developing the blueprint for net zero and for meeting UK energy demand we engaged extensively with members of the workforce, unions, industry leaders and other stakeholders including regulators, trade associations, government departments and policy makers.

Their invaluable feedback enabled us to identify sixty actions across five key themes that map out how the industry will set about creating a safe, sustainable, socially acceptable future for itself. This was published in industry’s Roadmap 2035: A Blueprint for Net Zero, launched at Offshore Europe in September of last year.

The Roadmap offers a pragmatic route where we can continue to support hundreds of thousands of jobs, make a positive contribution to public services through taxation and provide secure and affordable energy, while also helping our industry and the UK more generally secure a successful, fair and inclusive transition to a net-zero economy.

 

Roadmap to reality

The current climate of thought, in which many believe a change to cleaner energy is not happening fast enough, places extra pressure on the industry. How can this new decade be one of meaningful achievements to safeguard our collective future in discussions about the new energy mix? Many factors play a role in making that a reality, including our championing of a diverse and inclusive workplace – a key theme in Roadmap 2035.

In September 2019 OGUK helped launch the Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce, encouraging industry to come together to drive action towards recruiting and retaining diverse people, representative of wider society. That’s important as many successful leaders admit they never get a good outcome by listening only to the people they agree with because that approach limits input by 50%. In addition to the substantial expertise that exists in our industry, we need people with fresh perspectives, innovative mindsets and transferable skills to help us rise to the net-zero challenge.

According to the UKCS Workforce Dynamics report published by OPITO and RGU’s Energy Transition Institute, by 2025 there will be approximately 4,500 people employed in roles that don’t currently exist.

We’re anticipating the demand for expertise in areas including low-carbon energy, data science, data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics, material science and cyber security to name but a few. The potential to be recognised as a global leader in carbon management is a key ambition in the Roadmap’s aim to develop people and skills.

This wealth of knowledge, alternative viewpoints and new expertise is crucial to supporting our commitment to deliver the transition to a lower carbon future as a signatory of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Climate change is a global issue and the UK has great potential to lead by example, especially as our industry’s Roadmap is one of the first major industrial responses to government plans to reduce or offset carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 in the UK and 2045 in Scotland.

In setting out our target to support net-zero, the UK is among a small group of countries embracing the climate change challenge posed to all industries, businesses, families and individuals. To protect our planet for future generations, we’re taking action in a constructive, collective and co-ordinated way. That means having an inclusive and continuing conversation.

Momentum is building. In January our chief executive Deirdre Michie OBE delivered a keynote speech to an audience of politicians, policymakers and campaign groups in Edinburgh, outlining our plans for playing a key role in a transition that ensures people can continue to have affordable and low-carbon energy.

In the same month, stakeholder and communications director Gareth Wynn shared Roadmap 2035 with Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA), and explored how our sector is responding to climate change internationally.

More and more we hear about the specific actions companies are taking to reduce production emissions, to support the delivery of low carbon technologies which will help other heavy emitting sectors to decarbonise, and most importantly, to forge a new and exciting path into the future.

We recognise that our ambition to reduce emissions from 14 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (mtCO2e) – currently 3% of the UK’s total greenhouse emissions – to 0.5 mtCO2e in line with the Climate Change Committee outlook is a major challenge. It will require significant investment, new technology and close working with the other sectors, like renewables, across the UK. And as our world-class supply chain diversifies its products and services, the door will open to more international opportunities.

We look forward in 2020 to contributing to the COP26 conversation. Whatever the views on where our energy comes from, the debate must be one that is rigorous and inclusive rather than polarised. That way, we and others can see clearly how we can be a positive force in the new energy mix.

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