The UK’s biggest gas supplier, Equinor, is facing a backlash from climate activists following its announcement that it made profits of £62 billion in 2022, the highest in its history. Activists staging protests at Equinor’s headquarters today described the figures as “grotesque”.
Equinor, which is majority owned by the Norwegian government, provides more than a quarter of the UK’s gas demand,(1) and these profits come amid soaring levels of fuel poverty: nearly a third of UK households are expected to be in fuel poverty in April when bills are set to rise again.(2) Last month, Equinor’s CEO, Anders Opedal, said that UK consumers should expect energy bills to stay high for years to come.(3)
This morning from 10:30am, climate campaigners from Parents for Future, Mothers Rise Up, and HERO UK Climate Justice Circle will be staging a demonstration outside Equinor’s London Headquarters using pop-up wind turbines to highlight the need for Equinor to shift more of its profits into cheaper renewable energy.
Campaigners are also calling for Equinor to withdraw its application to develop Rosebank, the UK’s largest undeveloped oil field.(4) Despite its enormous profits, Equinor and its partners in the Rosebank project are set to receive more than £500 million in tax breaks from the UK government thanks to the deliberate loophole introduced in the windfall tax by Rishi Sunak.(5) Burning Rosebank’s oil and gas reserves would create more CO2 than the combined emissions of all 28 low-income countries in the world.(6)
Today’s action is one of a number of protests taking place this week targeting the company: a rally against Equinor will also take place today in Aberdeen, and a candle-lit vigil was held yesterday evening outside the Norwegian Embassy in Central London. On Saturday, activists also staged a sit-in at the Science Museum protesting its sponsorship deal with Equinor.
Charlotte Howell, climate organiser at Parents for Future UK, said: “Equinor’s profits are an outrage. Like all the oil and gas giants, they have knowingly wrecked our climate for decades, quietly watching emissions rise, and tipping points breach, without meaningful decarbonisation. More terrifyingly, the UK government not only allows these climate wrecking companies to make obscene profits in the midst of a cost of living crisis, but hands them billions more in tax relief. We can no longer stand by and let this happen. It has to stop.
“Reshuffling government departments won’t bring our energy bills down, removing the windfall tax loophole and moving swiftly to homegrown renewable energy will.”
Jessica Kleczka, co-leader at the HERO UK Climate Justice Circle, said: “Equinor’s eye-watering profits and plans to develop the massive Rosebank oil field reveal how little they care about the wellbeing of people and the planet. Instead of channelling their immense wealth into lowering bills, they are doubling down on new oil and gas, while vulnerable people are left to struggle with rising energy costs. Their proposed Rosebank oil field would do nothing to help with this, but instead emit more CO2 than the world’s 28 lowest-income countries do in an entire year.
“Rich countries like Norway and their state-owned oil company Equinor need to take its fair share of responsibility for the climate crisis and use its wealth to support a fair and fast transition to renewables, not continue to profit from climate-wrecking fossil fuels.”
Lauren MacDonald from the Stop Rosebank campaign said: “Equinor's grotesque profits are a sure sign of a broken energy system and instead of taking action, the government is adding to Equinor's vast riches by handing them millions in subsidies to develop Rosebank.
“It's because of this country's toxic relationship with oil and gas that we find ourselves in a situation where vulnerable members of the older generation are having their houses broken into when they can't afford their energy bills, and the younger generation are left fearing for their future. We are out here asking the government to stop siding with oil and gas giants and to get on with investing in renewables and closing the windfall tax loophole that’s leaking millions in public money to the likes of Equinor.”