CCC backs limits on UK oil and gas production and a presumption against future exploration

The UK’s official advisor on climate change has said it would support a government presumption against future oil and gas exploration.

The Welton oil site in Lincolnshire. Photo: IGas

For the first time, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) said there should be controls on the supply of oil and gas, with tighter limits on production, to restrict global temperature rise to 1.5C.

In a letter today to the business secretary, the CCC said:

“An end to UK exploration would send a clear signal to investors and consumers that the UK is committed to the 1.5°C global temperature goal. That would also help the UK in its diplomatic efforts to strengthen climate ambition internationally.”

The CCC also said:

  • Increases in UK production would have, at most, a marginal effect on UK energy prices and a revival of fracking would not cut household bills
  • Extra domestic oil and gas production would support a larger global market, possibly leading to additional consumption and higher emissions

The CCC has previously said the UK needs to make large and rapid reductions in the consumption of oil and gas.

Oil consumption would need to fall by 46-62% by 2035 and 84-98% by 2050. Unabated gas, without the use of carbon capture and storage, would need to fall by about 65% by 2035 and be virtually eliminated by 2050.

Onshore oil and gas companies regularly claim that domestic production would displace imports and would not increase total global volumes or emissions.

But responding to proposed government climate tests for new oil and gas licences, the CCC said it had not been able to establish for certain what effect new UK extraction would have on global emissions.

The CCC said UK production, particularly of gas, had a smaller carbon footprint than the international average.

But extra oil and gas extraction could lead to higher overall global consumption the CCC said. Some academics have estimated that 20-60% of extra production would lead to additional consumption.

The CCC said:

“We see a role for policy to limit extraction of oil and gas on climate grounds, alongside policies to reduce the burning of these fuels

“We would support a tighter limit on production, with stringent tests and a presumption against exploration.”

The organisation’s chief executive, Chris Stark, said there was a “huge danger of global oversupply of oil and gas”. With no supply side policies, there was a risk that extraction would far exceed the amount of fossil fuels that could be burnt under climate commitments.

He said there was no guarantee that additional domestic production would remain in the UK. Currently the UK is exporting oil and gas, even though it is a net importer and despite high energy prices.

On the impact of increased production on prices, the CCC said:

“Oil and gas prices faced in the UK are set internationally. The best way of reducing the UK’s future exposure to these volatile prices is to cut fossil fuel consumption on the path to Net Zero – improving energy efficiency, shifting to a renewables-based power system and electrifying end uses in transport, industry and heating.

“Any increases in UK extraction of oil and gas would have, at most, a marginal effect on the prices faced by UK consumers in future.”

The CCC’s chair, Lord Deben, said fracking was also not an answer to rising gas bills:

“Any gas which was produced from fracking would cost the world price. It will not be cheaper. It will be the same price as the world demands so you won’t get any effect on the bills.

“If we weren’t prepared to pay that price in Britain it would be exported.”

He said the amount of fracked gas that could be produced would be limited by “reasonable environmental restrictions”. It would take “a serious period” of time to get any fracked gas out of the ground, he said, by which time demand for gas should be falling significantly.

The CCC welcomed the concept of the government’s climate compatibility checkpoint. But it said the proposed tests were too narrow. It also criticised the focus on new licensing. Fields, such as Cambo, off Shetland, that have a licence but have not begun production would not be covered by the tests. The committee called for a broader assessment of limiting emissions in the oil and gas sector:

“We encourage you to set stringent tests to the licensing of exploration. Equivalent tests should also apply to later development stages, such as consenting of production.”

Ryan Morrison, just transition campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“In advising Ministers to support a tighter limit on oil and gas production and a presumption against exploration, the UKCCC are adding their voice to the growing chorus urging the UK Government to end its plans to expand the supply of climate-wrecking oil and gas.”

“The UK Government must finally listen to the science and scrap their plans to dish out more licences and approvals to the oil and gas companies who are hellbent on destroying the climate for their own profit.”

17 replies »

    • Boris Johnson a few minutes ago “we must collectively remove our dependence on Russian oil and gas”. At the same time he is forcing the abandonment of the Cuadrilla shale gas site. With an influential group of Tory MPs publicly pushing for a rethink of energy policy it won’t be long before this ludicrous inconsistency breaks through into public attitudes.

    • The constant reiteration has so much hesitances in your sentence katT! Fracking is Dead? You still trying to convince yourself?, the US aren’t so convinced. Government regulation change and we are then all out for fracking!
      Looking again at the 2.8 tremor from the supposed cuadrilla frack.
      This is regulation need was substantially more regulated than is for the construction management plans and quarrying!
      This scenario was deemed to fail, and damage it did not cause. Where is the evidence?

      But the Anti’s will still fly to the sun on low cost airlines, and drive 3 litre diesel BMW’s! Delusional

  1. So advisers advise, Governments decide. The Government have already decided.

    Vaccines and Covid support costs money. Voters vote to prolong their lives. They would rather die tomorrow than today.

  2. The truth is that Putin, using his own truth, has invaded the Ukraine. It’s time to insist on the discernible truth and destroy the dogma of self interest wherever its pernicious influence is clear. Don’t blame Russia, blame the lie.

    • Ahh, but what is the discernible truth? Certainly not supplied by some on this site, where it is shown to be a false truth, that is then denied or covered up.

      The Government has already decided. New UK gas and oil is part of the net zero plan. KatT who was quoting the net zero plan a few hours ago, seems to have forgotten it very quickly. And KatT-“we” have been told that something in the future can not be fact! You and I know it can, and the Oxford English dictionary makes that quite evident, so perhaps that discernible truth needs your best efforts?

      Not sure where Putin comes into the equation. The Government’s decision was obvious some while ago. There have been many references to the reduced impact upon the environment from locally produced oil and gas from the Government. That is a discernible truth and ignorance of it is perhaps convenient, but does not change the decision or the truth behind it.

      • More unsubstantiated assertions:
        –“we” have been told that something in the future can not be fact! You (KatT) and I know it can, and the Oxford English dictionary makes that quite evident,”

        The derivation of ‘fact’ is the Latin ‘factum’ = thing done.

        Have you nothing better to do than waste our time?
        Perhaps you’d like to give us your gloss on “truth” while you are giving us the OED entry to which you refer.

        • OED:

          Fact: “a thing that is known to have occurred”. True.

          Read on: “a thing that is known to exist”.

          Read on: “or to be true”.

          Apologies to Martin required, 1720.

          Perhaps you need to recognise that many words have more than one meaning, or a variation upon one meaning developed over time. Otherwise an English dictionary would be a pretty thin document. If English is not your first language you have an excuse, if not, there is none.

          [Edited by moderator]

          • Called away, but back now.



            “The quality or a state of being true or truthful”.

            So, let’s look at true:

            “In accordance with fact or reality”!!!!

            I can see your problem, 1720! Once you have gripped the fs in the future, it is still a long way to go to the ts.

  3. I can’t see this as anything but excellent news. A step forward. The message – the logic – the necessity – all getting through, slowly but surely.

  4. The CCC have summed the situation up perfectly. Fracking is over. Fracking could never be the solution to anything.

    How vacuous the arguments by the pro fracking and pro more fossil fuels become in the face of science and fact.

    • The CCC another biased think tank dead set on driving us to being dependant on renewables?!! The energy transition will only work if we utilise gas as the “transition” fuel!

      By all means give up all you take for granted, live in a mud hut and cook and heat using mature! Remember our late great ancestors live till their late 28th, contracting illnesses and g*d knows what else! Without the gas good old fossil fuels industry we’d be in a worse position! (And never mind that fossil fuels kills propaganda, anything which has a living organism, dies)! Fact

      The Russia-Ukraine crisis is tragic!, Greed and Power, but does this not resonate with requiring our own feed stock for export, trade and home usage!!

      • Well, what do we have here ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls? The constant reiteration has so many hesitancies in your sentences, EG! CCC backs limits on UK oil and gas production and a presumption against future exploration. Are you still trying to convince yourself otherwise?
        What is heat using “mature” by the way?
        Do tell? Perhaps that “contribution” demonstrates something less than “mature” in its content and presentation?

        Also, what is a late 28th? 28th of what? 28th February 2022 perhaps? Well, that gives you two days until you can become “mature” doesn’t it? So maybe it would be better to find something less “hesitant” to do, until you “mature”? My early congratulations on your imminent “maturity” late on the 28th February 2022…..?

        So now it comes to the rather more “mature” subject matter doesn’t it.

        “(And never mind that fossil fuels kills propaganda, anything which has a living organism, dies)!”

        Never mind? Propaganda? No propaganda, EG, unlike your “contributions” everything that I have provided you, is verified substantiated fact checked and peer reviewed linked facts. 1 in 5 deaths worldwide are due to fossil fuel pollution. That is from the British Medical Journal and other sources also.

        Fossil fuel air pollution blamed for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide (.pdf download link on page)

        And by the way, life on earth doesn’t just “die”. There are always reasons, be they inconvenient toxic fossil fuel pollution. Or the 1 in 5 deaths worldwide from toxic fossil fuel pollution, others from disease, injury, accident, violence, old age and so on.

        And then there is, of course, the present political insanity and organised mechanised murder in a totally unnecessary war due to political provocation and insane megalomania on all sides.

        The usual excuse, from that particular direction, is that there are too many people in the world and that they are the problem. (Not you notice the fossil fuel pollution and political insanity that really causes the deaths of millions of people per year. Here you are saying, that people die anyway. So are you saying who cares? Is that your excuse? There are words to describe that attitude towards life. I will leave you to guess what they are.

        So are you now going to pick up that much dropped fossil fuel industry baton in an effort to defend from all my substantiated, verified, document linked fact checked peer reviewed proof that anything I said, is in any way “untrue”.

        If so, all you have to do is to supply your own verified substantiated linked fact checked and peer reviewed documentation to every question I have asked all of you for more than a year now.

        I am still awaiting the same from your “colleagues”. A resounding silence other than unsubstantiated denial from them too, apparently.

        However, since you have decided to reveal all your evidence to defend your toxic fossil fuel industry….others than you have balked at the prospect…..

        Off you go then?

        • I think Eli probably meant “manure”.

          To address the points made by Eli-Goth:

          “The CCC another biased think tank dead set on driving us to being dependant on renewables?!!”

          Why does Eli think the CCC are “biased”? It’s clear they aren’t because it has taken them this long to make such a statement, despite the scientific proof of a need for such action existing for decades. Obviously they are pragmatic enough to understand the problems involved in taking such a drastic but necessary step.

          Does Eli think it would be wrong to become “dependent on renewables”? Renewables could always belong to us (given a decent government) and should never have to be piped in from Russia or gained through wars or underhanded destabilisation of countries or through pacts with tyrants – how can that not be a better result for the planet and its people, even if a climate crisis didn’t exist?

          “The energy transition will only work if we utilise gas as the “transition” fuel!” Eli perhaps doesn’t realise that gas is a fossil fuel and cannot be used as a transition any more than ham can be used to transition vegetarianism.

          Many people don’t understand the science behind the climate crisis, which is accelerated climate change caused by the release of carbon from under the ground, carbon that was captured millions of years ago because of the climate changes of the past. This is in gas, coal and oil.

          Many people argue that the planet goes through changes all the time and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they miss the point that we are bringing the changes of the past to the surface and adding them to the natural changes of our own era, thus creating an accelerated and dangerous rate of change.

          Eli does of course have a point that having come as far as we have with fossil fuels, it will be hard to to without. Hard to resist the temptation to look for our own supplies of the precious substances. That’s a natural impulse. But we must resist it, because there is incontrovertible evidence that our Precious is not good for us any more than Gollum’s was good for him.

          One thing’s for sure – we wouldn’t have to burn manure. We could still cook over a wood fire because the carbon released from wood was only captured from the atmosphere when the tree grew during our own era and not millions of years ago, so that does not contribute to the accelerated global warming that causes the current crisis, even though it can add to pollution in some circumstances. (Or of course there is always an electric cooker run by renewable power.)

          • Yes clarksvilleok, I did realise that, but it was just a bit of fun on a Sunday morning which is always good for the sense of humour.

            I get the impression that EG, and others, are only attempting to argue against any form of opposition to the fossil fuel industry. I really don’t think it goes any further, or deeper than that?

            As you say, the mere fact that this country and the entire world can be held to ransom by one monopoly interfering with the supply to the rest of the world creates that most valuable asset of all.

            Scarcity. For example, some friends from South Africa tell me that diamonds are as common as dirt in certain locations. But they are all sent to warehouses and only dribbled out in order to keep the price as high as possible. Vast fortunes are made and maintained from something that, if you knew where to look, you could have just picked them up off the ground.

            That only goes to prove just how dangerous it is to put one industry in total control of one source of power or anything else on the planet, be they political, financial, medical, food, water, or fossil fuel.

            Shouldn’t the western countries have learned the lessons from the Middle East OPEC oil producers cutting production to embargo the west back in the 1973 to 1975 oil crisis? And now the same scenario is happening all again over Russian/USA politics and major power mongering. The entire world should have learned that lesson and began to seriously investigate total renewable policies and action. There are those who deny all this latest Russia/Ukraine war is about fossil fuels, but it underlies the entire situation, and the halting approval of the Nordstream 2 pipeline and the gas pipelines that also run through Ukraine only goes to prove just how vital that factor is in this entire mess.

            I agree with you about leaving the toxic legacy of the Carboniferous, through to the Cretaceous eras in the ground where nature has all but sealed them in place for a very good reason. I recall saying something like that years ago, when this site first began. That fell on fossilised stony ground (shale) so to speak.

            Bringing all that deposited and buried complex decayed and fossilised carbon methane and complex hydrocarbons back to the surface only serves to reintroduce all those toxins back onto the surface and into the atmosphere again.

            Perhaps this latest lesson should finally spark this government and others to really fund research and development of primarily renewable energy sources? Time to investigate the research of Nicola Tesla and so many others, and to drag these governments and monopolistic oiligarch corporations truly into the future.

  5. There may have to be a rethink if the UK, EU and USA are forced to source the $700 million worth of Russian oil, gas and other commodities they purchase every 24 hours from somewhere else.

    [Figure corrected at poster’s request]

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