Government rejects MPs’ call on flaring and oil and gas licensing

The UK government has rejected all the recommendations of a cross-party committee of MPs to speed up decarbonisation of energy supply.

33rd offshore licensing round. Image: North Sea Transition Authority

The proposals included a clear end date for new licensing of oil and gas activities and for an earlier ban on flaring.

In January 2023, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said the end date for licences should “fall well before 2050”.

It also recommended that ministers consult on when the date should be, based on oil and gas production currently being planned by the UK and elsewhere and on the remaining global carbon budget if temperatures were to be limited to 1.5°C.

In its response to the committee, published today, the government said:

“While we are working to drive down demand for fossil fuels, even when the UK has achieved net zero in 2050, some oil and gas will be needed for certain industrial purposes and essential products.

“Even with significantly reduced fossil fuel use in 2050, the UK is projected to remain a net importer of both. A faster decline in domestic production would mean greater reliance on imports, at greater expense, and in the case of gas, potentially resulting in additional global emissions.”

The government added that it had implemented a climate compatibility checklist to assess whether offering new oil and gas licenses remained compatible with meeting climate targets. It said:

“it would not be helpful environmentally, economically or in terms of maintaining offshore skills for the transition, to reduce domestic production where this merely increases our dependency on imports.”

On flaring, the EAC had recommended:

“The routine flaring of unwanted fossil gas must be banned outright, as it has been by Norway since 1971.”

It said the government should introduce an amendment to the Energy Bill to provide for a “total prohibition” of flaring from installations in UK jurisdiction not later than the end of 2025.

In response, the government said it already had “ambitious to end routine flaring and venting”. It said:

“As well as the challenging target we set of 2030, we have signed up to The World Bank Zero Routine Flaring initiative, which aims to eliminate routine flaring of gas globally.

“Under the initiative we have committed to make every effort to ensure that routine flaring from existing oil fields ends as soon as possible, and no later than 2030.”

The EAC said today:

“Ministers have not engaged in a meaningful way with many of the committee’s recommendations and have not acknowledged the slow progress achieved through policy incentives on energy efficiency in the past 10 years.”

The committee said it looked forward to “more significant” government announcements later in March on what ministers are calling “green day”. The energy security and net zero secretary had predicted these announcements to be a “big bang moment”. They will include publication of a revised version of the net zero strategy and the government’s response to the net zero review by Chris Skidmore.

The EAC chairman, Philip Dunne MP, said:

“Over the course of several months our committee heard from expert witnesses on how the UK could phase out fossil fuels while ensuring that households could continue to power and heat their homes. Our report took forward many of these proposals, supported by evidence that the measures were practicable and achievable.

“It is therefore disappointing to find not only that in its response to our report the Government failed to accept a single recommendation, but also that it did not engage at all with many of the proposals we had made.

“Instead, we received a response which reiterated existing policy initiatives. These initiatives in themselves are clearly insufficient to accelerate emissions reductions at a pace necessary to put us firmly on the path to net zero.”

Mr Dunne said the government had another chance, later this month, to demonstrate its ambition by setting out achievable targets and coherent action plans.

20 replies »

  1. P.S. 1720, my late wife pulled our local Green up on errors of fact within the leaflet he gave her. His response-“poetic license”! How’s that for integrity?

  2. March 22nd. “PS 1720, I have never tried to disprove global heating.” (Collyer)
    Integrity? Poetic licence?
    (Note the spelling. Noun ‘c’, verb ‘s’. Think advice, advise; device, devise.)
    However, I agree.Two wrongs don’t make a right. The Green response on the occasion you quote did fall short of integrity.

  3. I repeat my sarcastic comment to the effect that your Tories have done a really good job on the economy. You seem to have missed the sarcasm – mea culpa, I shouldn’t indulge in it.
    For the record, I do not think the Tories have done a good job with the economy: 2.1 million users of foodbanks, 14.4 million living in poverty, of which 4.2 million children. 3.2 million are estimated to be in hygiene poverty.(Figures – Gordon Brown)
    Average wage in Germany – £43,500: U.K. – £26,200.
    State pension in Germany – 70% of final salary: U.K. – 37% of average salary.
    One-bed flat in Germany, rental is average 28% of average salary. U.K: – 34%
    Cost of a degree in Germany – £0: in the U.K., £30,000 (Figures -John Crace)
    Can Collyarithmetic cope?
    As you know very well, evidence of Tory incompetence in all areas is plentiful.
    Both sets of figures are in the Guardian – March 25th. So just ignore them and tell us more about your garden. By the way, which totalitarian country have you visited where voters are uniformed.

    • Strange though 1720 they are not very happy in Germany with their lot either. Don’t think it is to do with their food banks, but they do have quite a lot. Neither are they very happy in France.

      Gordon Brown? Wasn’t he the guy who gave away the gold, oversaw the demise of the banking system, increasing those out of work, having to multiply the student numbers in an attempt to mask the full level of unemployment, then leaving a note there was no money left, but had convinced many they should invest in diesel vehicles before he did? The same diesels where £billions have subsequently been paid out to compensate for pollution? Didn’t he have something of a problem with his own voters when overheard describing them in an unfortunate way and moaning he should not have had to put up with meeting one? Hmmm, and now has the gall to whinge about consequences. You should know by now, 1720, to be a bit more careful pontificating about a subject where previous is still on the record.

      There is incompetence all around, 1720. There are voters uninformed all around, 1720. Yes, I ignore the Guardian ever since I was in the NUS and before I was being taxed, so trust that helps to prevent me falling into either of those categories.

      Lots of uniformed voters in most totalitarian countries, 1720. Whether they are informed or uninformed depends on the subject. Whether their vote is actually considered is another matter altogether. The uniformed voters in totalitarian countries have the ultimate power though.

      Anyway, I have pasta to prepare which is a lot more challenging than dealing with your nonsense, so let me know when you find out why the Germans and the French are unhappy with their lot. I may be able to help as when a young chap I rented a room from a German couple. They were pretty happy living in the UK and had no wish to move back to Germany. They did also have quite a number of young French ladies who lodged with them whilst visiting UK. They did all go back to France, but were pretty happy with UK.

      • You studied and are still unable either to discern the irrelevance of your response to my demonstration of Tory economic incompetence (in response to your smirking at the Green Party’s economic plans), or, indeed, to formulate a relevant response! There is not the slightest attempt to address the charge of Tory incompetence. Instead we are offered tidbits from your exposure to multi-cultural influences in the past; how happy Europeans were then with life in the U.K.; how unhappy the Germans and French are with their lot; an attack on Brown – whose figures are somehow called into question by your perception of his career; a two-paragraph reflection on ‘uninformed’ and ‘uniformed’, when t’was you who (March 27. 13.08) referred to the other uniformed voters.

        Thank heavens we didn’t end up with your garden – we got pasta instead.
        And you studied!
        Maybe if you hadn’t rejected the Guardian out of hand whenever you really did, we should be able now to read relevant and rational contributions on the subject of what harms FFs continue to inflict on our environment. May we guess which newspaper you preferred back then?

  4. Yes, 1720, I rarely comment on things where I have not studied. I leave that up to others, who then make it obvious to me.

    I have studied this morning that OEUK indicate that the windfall tax is driving £billions of investment away from the N.Sea. Good for the antis? Well, maybe not, as I also studied that the members have £30bn allocated this decade for offshore wind which may be reduced as a consequence. Never mind, they will still fall back upon the lack of investment line.

    I also studied that increasing level of taxation reaches a point where taxation revenue decreases. Methinks that algorithm might require some fine tuning.

  5. Ah, I’m with you. For your ‘studied’, we read ‘read’! Reading can of course be beneficial, but don’t confuse it with studying – this requires a little more input.
    Please revert to the English most of us use. It avoids misunderstandings like this one.

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