Energy security secretary Grant Shapps has insisted the UK will “still meet our net zero targets” despite new oil and gas licences being granted.
Shapps is set to meet some of the world’s major energy giants at a summit in Number 10, where he will encourage them to outline their £100bn plans to boost low carbon energy over the coming decade.
He told GB News on Wednesday: “Everyone supports this country’s transition to net zero but we cannot get there by telling people ‘we’re simply going to stop using oil and gas’.
“The only way to do that would be to tell people ‘don’t put your gas boiler on, don’t drive a petrol car’, and do that almost instantaneously. Unless you do that, what you’re really saying is ‘we’re not going to dig our own oil and gas, we’ll import instead’.
This comes amid a growing backlash against environmental policies, with the Conservative party clinging on to their seat in Uxbridge at last month’s by-election with anti-ULEZ messaging, while Levelling Up minister Michael Gove recently warned against making net zero a “religious crusade.”
There was also speculation the government could shift from its ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, however this has not yet materialised.
Shapps also teamed up with the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier this week to announce 100 new oil and gas licences and two further shortlisted carbon capture projects for potential taxpayer funding.
He has defended this approach, with oil and gas exploration featuring in the government’s energy security strategy, citing recent data from the North Sea Transition Authority that domestic supplies are less carbon intensive than imports.
“Yes, we’ll have more oil and gas licences, but we’ll still meet our net zero targets because we’re also massively investing in all these renewables as well,” he said.
Shapps further denied the government has not been doing anything to boost UK energy security – also pointing to the country’s small modular reactor competition for nuclear power and the upcoming offshore wind allocation round.
He said: “We’ve been moving very fast. This is just the latest round of investment into renewables by some of the very biggest energy companies in the land.”