UK ministers have been urged to draw up “a coherent plan” for managing the clean energy transition after analysis revealed that more than 200,000 jobs supported by the North Sea oil and gas sector have been lost in the last decade despite vast support from Westminster.

The warning comes on the eve of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai where concerns have been raised that the hosts, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government, planned to use its role as a chance to strike oil and gas deals with other countries.

The UK Government has ignored appeals from climate scientists, the United Nations, the International Energy Agency and climate campaigners that global warming pledges cannot be met with new oil and gas developments.

New analysis has found that around half of the jobs supported by the oil and gas sector 10 years ago have been lost, despite the UK Government pressing ahead with new licensing for fossil fuels projects.

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The findings by Uplift UK shows that 441,000 jobs were supported by the oil and gas sector in 2013, but this has plummeted to just 214,000 jobs this year.

Today, 30,000 people are directly employed in the industry, with the rest either supported through the supply chain or in jobs that are supported by oil and gas workers’ spending.

Campaigners are insisting that renewed efforts by the UK Government to increase oil and gas production will do little to stem the decline and demonstrate a “worrying level of denial” about the UK’s transition away from fossil fuels.

The Scottish Government’s draft energy strategy stresses that the North Sea basin is “in gradual decline”, adding that the energy transition is “urgent and inevitable”.

Read more: Labour market 'deterioration' linked to oil and gas industry decline

The new Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, a flagship Conservative policy in the King’s speech, introduces annual licensing rounds that the UK Government claims will “protect British jobs”.

But according to industry data, the wider oil and gas sector has lost 227,000 jobs in the past 10 years, during which time the UK Government has issued roughly 400 new drilling licences in five separate licensing rounds.

Read more: Rishi Sunak: 'Max out' North Sea oil and gas to solve climate crisis

Tessa Khan, executive director of Uplift, said: “Ministers claim that new licensing will protect British jobs, but the industry’s own figures show that is not the case.

“The last decade, during which time the government has issued hundreds of new licences, has seen the jobs supported by the oil and gas sector shrink by half.”

The Herald: The North Sea oil and gas sector is in declineThe North Sea oil and gas sector is in decline (Image: PA)

She added: “The thousands of workers that remain, as well as the communities and supply chains they support, urgently need a coherent plan for managing the transition from fossil fuel production to clean energy.

“Instead, what we’re seeing is a worrying level of denial in Westminster around the UK’s transition away from fossil fuels, and as a consequence a lack of seriousness around the need to attract green investment and good jobs.

“This Government seems both blind to the facts and unconcerned about the impacts on communities and workers.”

Scottish Greens environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell, highlighted that “fossil fuel giants have made obscene profits” with energy prices soaring, but warned “many of the workers have been left behind”.

The Herald: Scottish Greens environment spokesperson, Mark RuskellScottish Greens environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell (Image: PA)
He said that the analysis “emphasises the need for a real and urgent just transition to the renewable jobs of the future, not only for our climate, but also for our communities”.

Mr Ruskell added: "There is a thriving green energy sector, but it will need commitment and support from all levels of government if it is to reach its full potential.

"With resources that any country would envy, Scotland can be at the forefront of leading the renewables revolution in Europe.

"Scotland's workers are among the most skilled workers anywhere in the world, they can and must be at the forefront of our transition to a fairer, greener economy."

Katy Heidenreich, director of supply chain and people at Offshore Energy UK (OEUK), said: ‘‘Our world-class workforce is key to providing affordable, reliable, lower carbon energy which creates jobs, grows the economy and cuts emissions.

Read more: SNP signals 'faster acceleration' away from oil and gas despite boost

"This cannot be a debate about oil and gas versus renewables. We need to support both oil and gas and renewable energy since they are increasingly the remit of the same companies and the same people.

"Instead, it needs to be a conversation about unlocking the full potential of our people. If we get this investment it will mean the UK can scale up to reach 50GW of wind and 10GW of hydrogen, and speed the development of at least our clusters of carbon capture and storage projects by 2030.”

She added: "That’s what the future could look like, but our research shows we need more action to address skill shortages and to recognise the huge value in the existing workforce.

"We need to continue to collaborate over this issue, and industry continues to work with politicians of all parties as well as policymakers to signpost where transformational action could be realised."

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “This report completely fails to recognise the oil and gas industry continues to support more than 200,000 UK jobs, will provide around £50 billion in tax revenue over the next five years, and is key in unlocking the skills and revenue for our transition to clean energy.

“An unmanaged decline in our oil and gas industry would put billions of pounds of potential investments in low carbon technologies at risk, as well as tens of thousands of jobs they are expected to support by 2030, which is why we’re renewing efforts to back the industry and bolster our energy security.

“The UK also has a world leading renewable sector – since 2010 we’ve attracted nearly £200 billion of public and private investment in low carbon energy sectors, with an additional £100 billion more by 2030.”