New Global Witness analysis shows that government ministers met with fossil fuel companies 54 times between January and March.

London, August 1st, 2023 - Between January and March of this year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and climate and energy ministers met with fossil fuel companies 54 times, on average more than once every two days, according to new Global Witness analysis of UK government data. This amounts to around 20 per cent of all lobbying meetings they held in that period. (1)

This analysis comes as the Times reports that Sunak will meet with fossil fuel bosses on Wednesday, just two days after announcing that the Government would grant 100 new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea.

Scientists and campaigners have denounced the Government’s plans to U-turn on its climate commitments and “max out” North Sea oil and gas. This would lock the country deeper into a fossil fuel dependency that has left the UK with the highest energy bills in Western Europe.  

Leading Conservative politicians are reported to have close financial ties to companies that could benefit from the government’s pro-oil agenda, foremost among them the prime minister.

Both BP and Shell recently signed deals with the IT company founded by Sunak’s father-in-law, Infosys. Shell’s deal, which would help the company use AI, was signed in 2021 when Sunak was Chancellor. BP’s dealreportedly worth $1.5 billion – happened in May this year, shortly before Sunak announced the granting of new oil and gas licences.

Alice Harrison, Fossil Fuels Campaign Leader at Global Witness said:

“The Conservative party is the political wing of the fossil fuel industry. Rishi Sunak set off in his private jet to do the industry’s dirty work in Scotland on Monday, and has invited them all for tea at Downing Street on Wednesday. The prime minister’s decision to double down on expensive, dirty and unreliable North Sea oil, most of which will be exported, serves no one but big oil executives.''

 Please note the following additional facts, highlighted for journalists:

  • Last year, the Conservative Party and its MPs registered £3.5 million in donations from climate sceptics, fossil fuel interests, and high pollution industries.
  • Climate minister Graham Stuart reportedly received campaign donations worth £12,000 from one of the largest fuel distributors in the UK as well as an aviation consultant and recruiter.
  • Last year, BP Board Member Peter Mather was also appointed to the Board of the government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS), guiding the Department’s strategic direction. Following reporting by OpenDemocracy on his dual roles, Mather left his BP post.
  • A frequent Tory critic of fossil fuel windfall taxes – MP David Duguid – failed to disclose the £50,000 in BP shares held last year by his wife, according to a July 2023 Guardian report.
  • Fossil fuels received £20bn more UK support than renewables since 2015, according to the Guardian, which found that one fifth of the money that went directly to the fossil fuel industry was to support new extraction and mining.
  • Proposed new UK oil and gas fields would provide at most three weeks of energy a year, according to analysis by Uplift, with experts and Ministers agreeing that it would not reduce energy prices in the UK.
  • Over the next 10 years, fossil fuels companies are estimated to produce 2.3 billion barrels of oil and 253 billion cubic meters of gas from the North Sea, according to Global Witness analysis of data from energy analysts Rystad. When burned, this could produce 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon, more than Germany, Italy, and France together produce each year. (2)


(1)    See Transparency International UK’s database on UK government lobbying, available at

(2)    More information available on request.