The UK North Sea oil and gas industry has pledged to publish a detailed plan on how it expects to drive a reduction in its own carbon emissions, the chief executive of trade association Oil & Gas UK has said.

Speaking to an audience of politicians, policymakers and campaign groups in Edinburgh, Scotland on Thursday, Deirdre Michie said the sector is “developing targets”.

“I’m pleased to announce that we are developing targets for emissions reduction, and we will soon publish a detailed action plan in support of this — this is an industry in action,” Michie said.

“It will require significant investment, new technology and close working with the renewables sector in Scotland and across the UK."

Greenhouse gas emissions from the running of UK oil and gas platforms currently stand at about 14.5 million tonnes per annum, or about 3% of the UK economy’s total output.

Last year the UK government — in a first for a G7 country — committed to the country having net zero carbon emissions by 2050, while the Scottish government has said it will do this by 2045.

The UK government’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, has said the industry can afford to emit only 500,000 tonnes per annum in a so-called “net zero” world.

In terms of carbon intensity, this means going from 24,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for every 1 million barrels the UK industry produces to less than 4000 tonnes — an 85% improvement.

Michie added that the UK industry was no longer debating “what is and isn’t climate change”.

“The facts are that the climate is changing, and we must all change if we are to protect our planet for future generations,” she said.

“It will require constructive, collective and co-ordinated action to decarbonise a largely fossil fuel-based society, which has, in relatively few years, helped to dramatically improve the living standards, health outcomes and quality of life that many of us so freely enjoy today.

“But we should also be clear that the need for change also comes at a time when global energy demand is forecast to grow by up to 30% by 2050.”