The UK’s offshore oil and gas sector “is listening” to teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, according to a leading industry figure.
Oil and Gas UK chief executive Deirdre Michie has told a conference climate change “is a real and present danger that we must deal with together”.
She claimed the sector “can find and deliver” solutions to tackle the issue.
Miss Thunberg sparked an international youth movement after she staged a “School Strike for Climate” last year.
Since then school students around the world have gone on strike to demand action on climate change.
In a recent speech to MPs, the 16-year-old Swede criticised the UK for supporting new exploitation of fossil fuels and exaggerating cuts to carbon emissions.
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In her speech at an industry conference in Aberdeen, Ms Michie said: “I would like to reassure Greta Thunberg – we are listening, because we want the world to be a better place too.
“And while we believe that our industry’s global contribution has improved the lives of billions of people, we are clear that climate change is a real and present danger that we must deal with together.”
She described the climate activist as an “impressive young woman we can all take inspiration from”.
Ms Michie also responded to Ms Thunberg’s contention, made at the UN climate conference in Poland in December, that “if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself”.
Ms Michie said: “I would like to suggest that as the UK’s offshore oil and gas industry has so many talented people…we can find and deliver the solutions needed while at the same time positioning ourselves to be at the heart of an energy system that also needs to change – whether it is by the sector working to reduce its operational emissions as well as supporting the advancement of low carbon and abatement technologies.
“Indeed, along with our sector delivering from exploration through to decommissioning, it’s already unlocking the energy transition with some operators extending their portfolios into other energies – Equinor, Total, Shell and BP.
“And of course, the downstream and utilities sectors are doing a lot of work in this too.”
In her speech to MPs in April, Miss Thunberg said the UK was supporting shale gas fracking, greater exploitation of North Sea oil and gas fields and expanding airports.
“This ongoing irresponsible behaviour will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind,” she said.
She also described the UK’s carbon emissions reduction as the result of “very creative” accounting.