The UK, Denmark and Norway have committed to achieving ambitious carbon neutrality targets aligned with limiting global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Yet they are the three top oil and gas producing nations in Europe.

Deep transformation of energy systems to transition out of all fossil fuels will be required for their targets to be realized, and while significant progress has been achieved in phasing out coal, we must now turn to the oil and gas sector.

Oil and gas expansion plans remain in the UK and Norway, with only Denmark setting a date to phase out the industry. This ‘ambition gap’ between net-zero promises and climate policies, and oil and gas industrial strategies, is the key issue we seek to address.

Industry, government, and community resistance to the transition is largely founded in concerns regarding its social and economic impacts. Thus, strategies to phase out oil and gas must also be just and equitable. A just and orderly transition will require policy coherence between emissions targets and the provision of policies which support economic diversification strategies, labour market plans, skills training, social security and support for companies in reorienting their business models.

To respond to this complex research and policy challenge, this program will develop a better understanding of oil and gas transition scenarios for the North Sea region; establish buy-in from key stakeholders; and enable collaboration to scale up innovation and early-stage just transition efforts.

This project is co-led by Climate Strategies and SEI, and includes world-leading research institutions in the case study countries: Aalborg University (Denmark), University of Oslo (Norway) and University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom).

Objectives

  1. Generate evidence of the role of oil and gas in the political economy within the UK, Norway and Denmark, focusing on the need, barriers and opportunities for a just transition
  2. Co-produce just and feasible oil and gas transition pathways to 2050, alongside stakeholders from government, industry, civil society and academia
  3. Draw lessons from the North Sea to create blueprints for raising ambition in other producing and non-producing countries facing similar oil and gas transition challenges