Dear Prime Minister,
The International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s most influential energy forecaster, last week published its first ever full scenario report aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. The COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma – who requested it as input to the COP negotiations – welcomed this report as setting out a clear roadmap for achieving net zero.
One of the key findings in this groundbreaking report is that the IEA finds “no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply”. This means that, in order to meet the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement, there should from 2021 be no more development of new oil, gas, or coal production globally. This is an historic moment: the IEA recognising that further expansion of fossil fuel supply is incompatible with global climate security.
In the light of the IEA’s findings, we are now calling on you to order an immediate overhaul of the Government’s domestic oil and gas policy. This should cover the following:
- Revisiting the Government’s announcement in March about future new oil and gas licensing rounds with a decision to stop immediately and irrevocably the issue of any new licenses to explore for and extract oil and gas in the North Sea.
- Ending subsidies (direct and indirect) for oil and gas extraction. The UK’s forthcoming hosting of the G7 summit on 11-13 June provides the ideal opportunity for your government both to persuade others to follow your lead to ban the financing of overseas fossil fuel projects and to phase out public finance for domestic oil and gas projects as well. The required level of ambition is clear: finance in and by the G7 countries for new fossil fuel supply needs to end by the end of 2021.
- Making a plan to deliver a managed and equitable UK energy transition central to your policy overhaul. This should involve extensive engagement with oil and gas workers, trade unions and affected communities, and include major investment in skills and training
- Ending the policy of Maximum Economic Recovery (MER) for the North Sea, replacing the Oil and Gas Authority’s legal mandate with one that aligns the sector with a 1.5°C pathway accounting for the UK’s historic responsibility for emissions, and an obligation to take the lead as a developed nation
Failure to take the actions we advocate would fatally undermine the global political momentum needed to end new investment in fossil fuel supply and to get the world on track for 1.5°C.
We believe this is the time for the UK to show international leadership on curtailing fossil fuel expansion – as we count down to COP26 – and to act on the climate warning that the IEA has put out. Your Government has shown itself as a global leader on ending public finance for fossil fuel projects overseas. Committing to no further oil and gas investment in the North Sea, and planning for a managed phase-out of oil and gas in line with 1.5°C, would show that the UK can also get its own house in order; and be a credible leader on the global energy transition able to inspire other countries to follow. It would moreover protect the UK from the risk of stranded assets and help workers in the fossil fuel industry to make the most rapid transition possible to the low-carbon industries of the future.
As you said last month at President Biden’s Climate Summit, this is an “extraordinary moment”. We therefore call on you to seize this moment now and to illuminate the road ahead for a clean, green future for this country.
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