According to a recent analysis, the UK’s promises to combat climate change are “radically at odds” with the exploitation of new oil and gas reserves.
Researchers from Global Energy Monitor (GEM) also computed the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from burning all of the North Sea’s fossil fuel reserves.
According to them, the UK would virtually double its legally mandated carbon budget as a result.
A new licencing round is about to begin for the North Sea oil and gas.
The analysis examined the reserves in the 21 major licenced and pending-approval North Sea oil and gas fields. It states that if those reserves were to be harvested and burned, 920 million tonnes of carbon dioxide would be released. That exceeds the sum of the annual emissions from several nations.
Liz Truss, the prime minister, has stated her commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. But in addition, her government announced it would grant new North Sea oil and gas licences and repeal a ban on the fracturing of shale gas.
No new fossil fuel projects are allowed, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations, and the International Energy Agency (IEA), if we are to have any hope of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, has expressed a willingness to use “every last drop” of North Sea oil. The GEM assessment also considered the potential environmental effects of that, calculating that the extraction and burning of all untapped and unknown (currently unlicensed) oil and gas would result in the emission of 7,602 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). That exceeds the whole UK carbon budget for the 14-year period between 2023 and 2037.
The GEM study was referred to as “unfounded speculation” by a UK government spokeswoman.
According to the spokeswoman, “The government remains firmly committed to the legally binding aim of attaining net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”