‘Oil and gas licensing defies UK climate goals’

The government is awarding up to 100 licenses to companies, which will cast real doubt on net zero by 2050, researchers claim

Big Zero Report 2023

The UK has launched a new licensing round for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, a move which researchers claim will put the country’s net zero goal in real doubt.

Analysis from Global Energy Monitor (GEM) has found that if all North Sea reserves are extracted and burnt, the carbon emissions generated from this would see the UK exceed its carbon budget two-fold.

The government is awarding up to 100 licenses to companies, with almost 900 locations set to be explored.

If the reserves of the 21 largest oil and gas fields in the region were extracted and burnt, the report found that 920 million tonnes of carbon would be released – more than the entire yearly emissions of other nations.

Liz Truss came under fire immediately after replacing Boris Johnson as Prime Minister for her announcement that she would expand oil and gas, as well as fracking, to fight the energy crisis.

Many climate campaigners and researchers have stated this move will put the country’s 2050 net zero target in doubt, despite the PM’s statement in the House of Commons that she is “completely committed to net zero.”

Lead author of the GEM research, Scott Zimmerman, said: “If the UK claims to be a climate leader, it cannot allow these new fields to start up, nor hold another licensing round.”

However, the licensing round has gone ahead, with the Liz Truss stating: “We are opening more gas fields in the North Sea and delivering more renewables and nuclear energy. That is how we will protect the great British environment, deliver on our commitment to net zero and tackle climate change.”

Backing the choice of his Prime Minister, Business Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine means it is now more important than ever that we make the most of sovereign energy resources.”

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