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The Oil Machine

New film, released in cinemas just days ahead of COP27, explores the energy crisis and the fight over North Sea oil
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
The Oil Machine

A new film, released today (04 November), reveals the true price of our dependence on oil and explores whether activists and investors can spark its end.

The Oil Machine, directed by Emma Davie (Becoming Animal, I Am Breathing) and produced by Sonja Henrici (Merkel, Time Trial) is hitting UK cinemas just ahead of this year’s COP27, which begins on 06 November.

Understanding finance and oil

The film explores our economic, historical and emotional entanglement with oil by looking at the conflicting imperatives around North Sea oil.

This invisible machine at the core of our economy and society is now up for question as activists and investors demand change. Is this the end of oil?

‘Over the next few months, the UK government aims to put out 100 new licenses for oil companies to bid for exploration rights in the North Sea. These companies are likely to be from all over the world.

‘This is at a time when the IPCC Climate Report has signalled ‘Code Red’ for humanity and urged no more drilling for fossil fuels.

‘How does our democracy deal with this largely unknown world of oil at our doorstep at a time when climate change is causing fires, floods and huge devastation to people all over the world?

‘Now more than ever it is vital we understand what is happening in the North Sea. We need to be informed about processes such as the licensing rounds which hitherto have been invisible to most of the public and to understand the link between finance and oil.

‘This film is made to stimulate debate across the country at such a significant time. Screenings and public debates will be hosted by different sectors of the community ranging from MPs to activists, scientists to lawyers, teachers to investment bankers.

Every sector of our country is affected by this and we aim to mobilise a huge public discourse in all areas of society.’

Director, The Oil Machine

Hidden oil infrastructure

The Oil Machine reveals the hidden infrastructure of oil from the offshore rigs and the buried pipelines to its flow through the stock markets of London.

As the North Sea industry struggles to meet the need to cut carbon emissions, oil workers see their livelihoods under threat, and investors seek to protect their assets.

Meanwhile a younger generation of climate activists is being catalysed by the signs of impending chaos, and the very real threat of global sea level rises.

The Oil Machine explores the complexities of transitioning away from oil and gas as a society – are we getting ever-more embedded in it?

‘I believe that what we do over the next five years will determine the future of humanity for the next millennium.

UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor 2000–2007, in The Oil Machine

Dismantling the machine

We have five to 10 years to control our oil addiction, and yet the licensing of new oil fields continues in direct contradiction with the Paris Climate Agreement.

This documentary looks at how the drama of global climate action is playing out in the fight over North Sea oil. 
By highlighting the complexities of how oil runs through every aspect of our society – from high finance to cheap consumer goods – The Oil Machine brings together a wide range of voices from oil company executives, economists, young activists, pension fund managers and considers how this machine can be tamed, dismantled or repurposed. 
The film features a fascinating array of voices, including: Holly Gillibrand (dubbed ‘Scotland’s Greta’); Kevin Anderson (Professor of Energy & Climate Change, Manchester University); Emeka Emembolu (Senior VP of BP North Sea); Jake Molloy (Regional Organiser, RMT Union); James Marriott (co-author of Crude Britannia); Mikaela Loach (Edinburgh medical student); Sir David King (former UK Govt. Chief Scientific Advisor); Deirdre Michie (CEO of Oil & Gas UK); Steve Waygood (Chief Responsible Investor at Aviva Investors); Tessa Khan (climate lawyer from Uplift); Ann Pettifor (economist & author) and others.

The Oil Machine is an incredibly timely look at the role that the oil and gas industry has played in shaping the UK. When we are in the midst of a historic energy affordability crisis and climate crisis, it’s vital that we examine the ways that the industry has become entangled with our politics.

‘The UK Government’s recent announcement of a new oil and gas licensing round—despite the fact that it will do nothing to bring down the cost of energy and will only further fuel the climate crisis—is just the latest example of the power that the industry wields. There has never been a more urgent need to shift away from oil, and yet we are witnessing an industry in resurgence. The next few years will be a vital test of whether or not we can stand up to the oil machine.’

Climate lawyer from Uplift

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