‘Education gap’ needs addressed for activist groups like Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion demonstrators at London Heathrow airport.
Extinction Rebellion demonstrators at London Heathrow airport.

An “education gap” needs to be met for activist groups to understand the need for oil and gas globally, according to a clean energy advisor.

Charlotte Hartley, a pilot regulator at Pale Blue Dot and a representative on the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Commission, was discussing the climate challenge on the Oil and Gas Authority’s podcast.

Ms Hartley said an “education gap needs to be met” with groups like Extinction Rebellion on the need for oil and gas going forward.

She was joined by Hedda Felin, UK boss at Equinor, and Shell UK chair Sinead Lynch who both addressed the need for a “fact-based debate” and fears around polarisation.

Ms Hartley praised the efforts of climate protestors in the wake of Greta Thunberg’s school protests and documentaries from naturalist Sir David Attenborough, adding that areas like Aberdeen may need more focus on the climate emergency.

However she said some groups don’t realise the “devastating impact” that would occur from immediately switching from fossil fuels.

Ms Hartley said: “I think we have a real education gap which needs to be met with the likes of extremely environmentally active groups like Extinction Rebellion, for example.

“There needs to be a really strong requirement to close the education gap on what the energy demand is in relation to economic growth, yet trying to meet this important target of CO2 reduction.”

Oil and gas is expected to account for around 44% of world energy supply by 2050, according to quality assurance firm DNV GL, while the world transitions to renewables.

Meanwhile the International Energy Agency has highlighted that demand for plastics and other petrochemical products in developing nations as a major driver for oil and gas demand.

Ms Hartley added: “There are great, strong activists who are campaigning for big change without realising the devastating impact this could have on production and manufacturing of the clothes on their back.

“But I think that within Aberdeen there is possibly not enough recognition of the fact…that there’s a strong address of that side but there’s not enough of ‘we really need to do something about climate change’.

A spokesman for Extinction Rebellion said: “We think many people in Aberdeen do recognise the emergency but it’s difficult to respond when your city’s entire economy and infrastructure is based on oil and gas extraction.

“Extinction Rebellion recognises this is an emergency, and the necessary response will likely mean our society and economy are transformed out of all recognition.

“Therefore, we are urgently calling for the UK and devolved governments to set up Climate Citizens Assemblies, to inform ordinary people about what’s happening to our planet.”

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