According to the UK’s net zero minister, oil and gas are not the main contributors to climate change.
According to the UK’s net zero minister, the issue lies not in oil and gas themselves, but rather in the carbon emissions they produce, which contribute to climate change.
Graham Stuart stated that the UK may increase its focus on utilizing technologies for carbon capture and storage. He also clarified that while fossil fuel production is not the main cause of climate change, the demand for fossil fuels plays a significant role.
His comments were a confident defense of the government’s heavily criticized position.
“I believe that demand, not supply, is the main driving force. Therefore, we should shift our focus towards addressing demand,” stated Stuart, who is set to participate in the upcoming Cop28 UN climate summit. The summit will examine the future of oil and gas production.
At the beginning of the week, during the king’s address, the government announced their intentions for granting new licenses for oil and gas in the North Sea. However, opposition parties and environmental activists argued that this decision goes against the UK’s objectives for addressing climate change.
During a questioning session with parliament’s environmental audit committee on Wednesday, Stuart stated that the UK was at the forefront of climate policy and had encountered no issues.
In a statement to MPs, he stated that the UK should not be a concern for those concerned about climate change. He believes that the biggest challenge lies in convincing other countries to follow the UK’s path towards achieving net zero emissions.
The committee on climate change (CCC), which serves as the UK’s official advisors, has cautioned that the country is not on track to achieve its net zero targets. Despite this, Stuart noted that the CCC has identified areas of climate policy that are making progress.
Last year at the Cop27 UN climate summit in Egypt, a coalition of over 80 countries, including the UK, advocated for the elimination of fossil fuels. It is anticipated that they will continue to push for this goal at the upcoming Cop28 conference in Dubai.
Stuart’s statements to the committee brought up doubts about whether the UK would maintain a firm stance this year.
The statement made to MPs was that there are no inherent issues with oil and gas, but rather the emissions produced by them are the concern that needs to be addressed.
Many activists believe that prioritizing emissions over fossil fuels is a diversion, or a way to justify depending on unproven technology for capturing and storing carbon, which is not currently widely implemented and may never be successful.
Jamie Peters, the climate coordinator for Friends of the Earth, expressed gratitude for Graham Stuart’s realization that there are no major issues in supporting the oil and gas industry. This contradicts the viewpoints of the government’s climate experts, the International Energy Agency, and leading scientists.
Greenpeace UK’s political campaigner, Ami McCarthy, referred to Stuart’s comments as “ridiculous.”
They stated that the government is failing in terms of both supply and demand. The government eliminated its own energy efficiency taskforce, which was created to decrease demand through initiatives such as insulating homes and upgrading boilers.
“It is truly disappointing to see the Conservative party, who are determined to use climate action as a means of creating conflict, try to shift the responsibility onto consumers who have been neglected by the government.”
According to Robbie MacPherson, the head of political affairs at Uplift, the government is not setting an example for the world when it comes to climate change due to its focus on increasing the use of fossil fuels.
“He stated that granting permission for projects such as Rosebank sends a message that the UK cannot be relied on to transition away from fossil fuels during a critical time when global cooperation is needed at Cop28 to address this issue.”
The United Kingdom has the potential to once again take the lead in reducing emissions globally. However, for this to occur, the government must quickly stop using political tactics when it comes to oil and gas.