29 Jul 2021

Revealed: North Sea oil company chief exec claims climate emergency is ‘fake’

Data Correspondent and Presenter

The chief executive of a North Sea oil company has said the climate emergency is “fake” in now deleted tweets from his personal account, despite his company’s claims it is working towards a net zero carbon emissions target, Channel 4 News can reveal. 


Steve Brown, the chief executive of Orcadian Energy, which owns licenses over vast oil reserves in the North Sea, claimed the global drive to meet the Paris Accord target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is “insane” in now deleted personal tweets.

Mr Brown also appeared to suggest on Twitter that Sir David Attenborough was an “idiot” for the renowned broadcaster and natural historian’s position on climate change.

Climate campaigner Tessa Khan was dismayed by Mr Brown’s comments on Twitter, saying: “It should raise alarm bells for all of us because the government has entrusted the contribution that this industry will make to helping us get to our net zero targets and these are the sorts of people that it has entrusted that to.”

Ownership of North Sea Oil licenses have changed in recent years as bigger firms have sold off reserves to smaller companies like Orcadian Energy, according to research by climate journalists Desmog and think tank Common Wealth shared exclusively with Channel 4 News and the Guardian.

A spokesperson for Orcadian Energy said “what individuals believe is irrelevant”, adding “what really matters is the significant work Orcadian Energy has done” to make its proposed development scheme as “clean as possible”.

‘Drill, baby drill’

Mr Brown has been a founding member of numerous oil and gas companies, including Orcadian Energy.

Mr Brown had accepted an offer to be interviewed by Channel 4 News, but then pulled out and his Twitter account was deleted.

However, this programme was able to save a selection of them and in one he said: “There is no climate emergency, fake emergencies are used to override debate and democracy.”

He also tweeted the widely discredited claims that the main cause of climate change is solar activity and CO2 emissions are likely “benign”.

The scientific consensus is that burning fossil fuels is the main cause of climate change.

In another deleted tweet he forecast continued demand for oil and gas and said his answer was “drill, baby drill”.

The industry regulator the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) is imposing new climate requirements on companies drilling in the UK.

A spokesperson for the OGA told this programme it requires the oil and gas industry to operate in a way consistent with net zero ambitions and its holding industry to account on “emissions reductions targets and energy transition commitments”.

They added: “We have one of the strictest systems of regulation in the world.”