Exploiting all the known reserves on the UK Continental Shelf could lead to thousands of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent being pumped into the atmosphere fuelling global heating.
The amount of emissions produced would be significantly more than the UK’s legally-binding budget to limit emissions between the years 2023-2037, the report by not-for-profit Global Energy Monitor said, jeopardising the road to net zero.
The group, which supports the movement toward clean energy, analysed the potential production at 21 of the largest undeveloped fields in the North Sea. It found that development of all or any of these fields would be incompatible with the UK’s and global climate goals.
The International Energy Agency said last year that no investment in new oil and gas fields are needted to meet demand and limit global heating to 1.5C. And the UN Chief Antonio Guterres said earlier this year that the “truly dangerous radicals” were coutries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.
Last month, the government confirmed a new round of licensing for North Sea oil and gas fields and pledged to extract “every ounce of oil and gas from the North Sea.” It also lifted a ban on fracking despite a manifesto commitment not to unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely.
It says it’s doing so to boost security of supply on a turbulent geopolitical backdrop including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has seen
But environmentalists have criticised the government’s policies in its first few weeks in power, saying they fear ministers are not engaging with the climate crisis with enough urgency, should instead focus on cutting demand by rolling out energy efficiency measures across the country and warning that the government has launched an attack on nature.
Energy experts also warn that producing more gas doesmtically will not bring down the soaring cost of gas as companies sell their findings on the international market, and the UK doesn’t have enough gas to materially impact the international price.
In her speech to the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday Liz Truss only mentioned the climate crisis once, saying she would protect the environment and deliver on net zero by opening more gas fields, delivering more renewables and nuclear energy. The government says gas has a role in the transition to net zero and that it is committed to reaching the legally-binding goal by 2050.
The Independent has contacted the Business Department for comment.