Proposed UK projects 'at odds with climate pledges'

Environmentalists accuse the government of talking up its green agenda while projects are lined up for approval

Energy companies are planning at least 40 new energy projects in the UK that would break the country’s climate change commitments, campaigners said on Wednesday.

They said if the government approved all the coal, oil and gas projects they would produce almost three times the annual greenhouse gas emissions for the whole of the UK.

The analysis by environmental group Friends of the Earth comes before Britain prepares to host international climate change talks at Cop26 in Glasgow, Scotland, from next week.

Plans include 30 offshore oil and gas projects seeking approval before 2025, seven on land and three coal mines.

The UK is aiming to hit net zero emissions by 2050 as part of global efforts to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The Friends of the Earth report said that many of the 40 projects it highlighted that were seeking planning permission in the next few years were likely to be long-term.

The UK has come under pressure to oppose a series of extraction projects, including the offshore Cambo oilfield in the North Sea, which contains an estimated 170 million barrels of oil.

An exploration licence was granted in 2001 but environmental activists and the opposition Labour Party are calling for the project to be scrapped as the country seeks to move to a low-carbon future.

The government has promised to scrap projects that do not align with its climate change goals.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in parliament on Wednesday said that the UK had cut its carbon-dioxide emissions by 44 per cent since 1990.

A UK government spokesperson said: “No other significant oil and gas producing nation has gone as far as the UK in supporting sector’s gradual transition to a low carbon future.

“What we cannot have is a cliff-edge where oil and gas are abandoned overnight. If we stopped producing gas, this would put energy security, British jobs and industries at risk, and we would be even more dependent on foreign imports."

Mr Johnson has announced a series of projects for more offshore wind, increased use of hydrogen and electric vehicles to promote his government’s climate change agenda.

But he has played down the possibility of a breakthrough during the summit starting next week in Scotland.

The leaders of China and Russia, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, will not attend the summit.

“It's still too early to say whether it will succeed,” Mr Johnson said on Wednesday. “It's in the balance.”

Updated: October 28th 2021, 12:34 AM