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Alok Sharma: I do not support the UK government's legislation on oil and gas.
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Alok Sharma: I do not support the UK government’s legislation on oil and gas.

Alok Sharma, previously the UK’s secretary of business and energy, has stated that he will not support Rishi Sunak’s oil and gas legislation. He believes that this decision reflects the government’s lack of dedication towards fulfilling its global climate obligations.

On Monday, a bill will be discussed in parliament that proposes an annual licensing system for oil and gas exploration contracts. This bill has stirred up much controversy within the green faction of the Conservative party. On Friday, former minister Chris Skidmore announced his resignation as an MP in response to the bill.

Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West who chaired the 2021 Cop26 Glasgow climate summit, seldom defies the government, but expressed strong disapproval of the legislation.

During an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he stated that he would not support the bill. He also mentioned that the bill only serves to further solidify the belief that the UK is stepping back from taking action on climate change.

The speaker stated that during the previous fall, there were frequent changes in policies and a lack of seriousness towards fulfilling international commitments. Despite recently signing a transition away from fossil fuels at Cop28, the UK government is now proposing to increase new oil and gas licences with this bill. This goes against our international agreement, so I will not be in favor of it.

The criticisms made by Sharma were denounced by Downing Street on Monday. According to a spokesperson, the government believes it is more practical to utilize our own resources rather than importing from countries with higher emissions.

The Tory peer and former environment minister, Zac Goldsmith, has encouraged Conservative MPs to vote against the bill on Monday evening, but there is not anticipated to be a significant rebellion from ministers.

According to his statement to the Guardian, the Conservatives are likely to lose the election, making it crucial for colleagues not to blindly follow a leadership that will soon be replaced.

This ballot pertains to a matter of greater significance than a typical ballot, and officials will not have the ability to alter their actions in the future. Some may no longer hold political positions, while others may still be in office, but all will want to be able to say to their descendants that they stood on the correct side of history. It is truly as straightforward as that.

The government asserts that the bill will enhance energy security and lower energy costs, however Sharma disagrees with this statement.

He stated that the government claims this bill is aimed at safeguarding energy security. However, the truth is that the oil and gas extracted from the North Sea is owned by private companies, so the government has no say in who they sell to. Additionally, the global market determines the price of oil and gas, so this bill will not have any impact on lowering domestic energy costs.

The government’s assertions regarding the bill have faced backlash from both scientists and the independent Climate Change Committee. Recently, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt received criticism from the head of the CCC for his reassurances that the government could meet its climate goals while permitting increased extraction of oil and gas in the North Sea.

Recently, it was disclosed that despite assurances that the oil would be utilized within the UK, the government seems to acknowledge that the private corporations responsible for extracting the oil will primarily sell it internationally. In reply to a query from Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the government stated: “It is not preferable to mandate private companies to designate North Sea oil and gas for domestic consumption.”

Source: theguardian.com