GLASGOW: The UK has refused to join an alliance of countries willing to fix a date to phase out oil and gas production and end licensing for new exploration, in a move that will raise questions about the COP26 host nation’s climate leadership.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance which was formed in September under the aegis of Denmark and Costa Rica, is expected to announce new member countries on Wednesday at COP26.
Reducing fossil fuel production is a key element in curbing global warming to 1.5 C, the target agreed at by all countries in Paris in 2015.
However, amid a sharp rise in global gas prices and spiraling increases in crude, the UK government has warned fixing a firm date for ending fossil fuel production will further exacerbate current energy supply problems and has refused to back the alliance.
Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency said no new oil and gas fields should come online if the world was serious about avoiding a climate crisis and reach net zero by 2050
However, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman criticized the IEA’s call, calling it a “la-la-land” scenario.
A UK government spokesman 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. While the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels continues to fall, there will continue to be ongoing but diminishing need for oil and gas over the coming years while we ramp up renewable energy capacity.”
The UK has a legally binding target to reach net zero by 2050 and earlier this year announced plans to decarbonize oil and gas production in the North Sea.
Norway, Europe’s largest oil producer, and Canada, the world’s No.4, are also unlikely to join the alliance.
The Canadian province of Quebec has joined the alliance, but Quebec does not currently produce any oil and gas, although it has 182 active exploration permits that cover 32,000 sq. km of land.