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Royal College of GPs halts OGUK conference over climate concerns

OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie
OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie

The Royal Collage of General Practitioners (GPs) has stopped an Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) conference from taking place at its London headquarters due to climate change concerns.

A statement released by the chairman, Professor Martin Marshall, said the Royal College felt the conference would have “compromised” the organisation’s “integrity” as the first medical Royal College to divest from fossil fuel companies.

He added it was reviewing contractual agreements and sponsorship policy relating to events ” to guard against a similar situation ever happening again in future.”

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Aberdeen-headquartered OGUK, said her organisation represented an “industry in action” to reduce or offset carbon emissions.

She added: “The reality is that many of OGUK’s member companies are actively pursuing business opportunities across the energy mix including offshore wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technologies.

“Divestment from the UK oil and gas sector could have the directly opposite effect of what it sets out to achieve, blockading low carbon innovation and disrupting the development of skills needed to deliver a successful transition to a more diverse, lower carbon energy mix.

“The UK oil and gas industry is uniquely positioned to help the UK reach its net zero ambitions and by working together we can deliver a safe, sustainable and competitive industry that realises its full potential in the transition to the low carbon future we all want to see.”

The Royal College of GPs conceded in a statement that while there is guidance about who can use the college premises, it did not explicitly exclude fossil fuel companies.

Prof Mashall added: “This was an oversight on our part and we apologise to our members and thank them for their patience while we worked through a number of complicated issues, including the legal implications of our action.”

Dr Deirdre Duff of the public health charity Medact said: “We’re delighted that the Royal College of GPs has taken this decision to ban Oil and Gas UK from its premises.”

“It has become totally unacceptable for health organisations to be associated with this reckless, health destroying industry. “

“The College cited its recent fossil fuel divestment as a reason for making the decision to shut the door on fossil fuel conferences. This is the beauty of fossil fuel divestment; it is an important first step towards isolating the fossil fuel industry from society and showing it up as a climate criminal.”

“Fossil fuel companies were once the most powerful corporations in history. But their power is dependent on being seen as legitimate actors in society. Divestment is breaking that power.”

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