LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) – The UK will not pledge to halt further oil exploration in the North Sea, a government energy body told Reuters, despite a warning from the world’s leading watchdog energy to limit spending on fossil fuels to meet climate goals.
The UK is due to host the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, in November and has tasked the International Energy Agency (IEA) to lead the way towards net zero emissions of ‘by 2050.
The agency released its results last week, but its recommendation to halt investment in fossil fuels is uncomfortable with a deal the UK government struck in March to continue allowing petroleum licensing. offshore in the North Sea in exchange for emission reduction promises.
“We are working hard to bring down the demand for fossil fuels, but there will always be a continued demand for oil and gas,” the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said in response to questions sent. by email from Reuters.
“We will not revoke newly awarded licenses. All future licenses are only granted on the basis that they are aligned with the government’s broad ambitions on climate change, including the UK’s goal of reaching net zero by 2050. “
The UK halted its latest license cycles for offshore exploration for technical reasons in March, but said they would resume at an undetermined time.
The minister chairing the COP26 conference, Alok Sharma, welcomed the conclusions of the IEA. Sharma said last week that the Paris-based watchdog report shared many of the UK’s priorities, including its desire to ‘leave the smut in history’.
A joint statement from the G7 group of the world’s largest advanced economies, including the UK, last week pledged “to phase out new direct government support for carbon-intensive international fossil fuels except in circumstances limited to the discretion of each country ”.
The UK oil and gas industry body (OGUK) said it agreed with the IEA’s call for more investment in renewable energy, but that the continuation Exploration under government control of emissions was in line with climate targets and supported jobs, the economy and the energy transition in the UK.
“Stopping local exploration would be a major drawback for the ongoing energy transition,” said Mike Tholen, Director of Sustainability at OGUK.
(Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla editing by David Goodman)
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