Tory MPs launch proposals to speed up transition to clean energy, as Cambo dispute escalates

A handful of Tory MPs opposed to UK climate policies may have made headlines this week with their attacks on the ‘cost of net zero’, but now a much larger group of Tory MPs have launched a new one. impetus to explore how the UK can prospect by weaning off fossil fuels.

The Conservative Network for the Environment (CEN), which has nearly 120 MPs and peers in its caucus, including a host of former ministers, today published a collection of 10 essays from leading parliamentarians and conservative thinkers, containing proposals on how to support workers and businesses throughout the UK’s abandonment of North Sea oil and gas, while accelerating the transition to technology clean.

The group said the publication would provide an “authoritative alternative to the left-wing consensus around a ‘just transition’, heavily focused on state intervention.” Rather, the CEN authors argue for a more market-driven approach, exploring how private and corporate finance can be harnessed to help North Sea communities thrive throughout the transition to emissions. net zero.

The report comes just a day after Labor leader Keir Starmer highlighted opposition plans for a Green New Deal, which would dramatically increase public funding for green infrastructure in a bid to create more green jobs and speed up the UK’s decarbonization efforts.

Writing in the foreword to the new essay collection, Clean Energy Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the government is putting in place a series of policies that are accelerating the transition to clean energy. “Covid-19 presented us with unique challenges, but
also offered the opportunity to growbecome greener again, “she said.” This recovery must be clean forprepare our economy for the challenges of tomorrow. “

However, the new report contains a series of recommendations on how the government can usher in a new phase in the UK’s journey to net zero emissions, while strengthening its international competitiveness and implementing the ‘leveling’ agenda. of the Prime Minister.

For example, former pensions minister Baroness Altmann calls for a new law to force large companies, including those in the oil and gas sector, to align their operations and investments with the Paris climate agreement , while MP Liaison Committee Chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin pleads for an international treaty to curb fossil fuel exploration.

Meanwhile, a number of contributors to the collection point to the need for the government to proactively plan for an era when demand for fossil fuels is expected to drop sharply. For example, Aberdeenshire MP Andrew Bowie urges the government to work with the private sector to provide new opportunities for the thousands of people in his constituency whose jobs depend on oil and gas, while the former MP Conservative and Energy Minister Laura Sandys calls for an end to the principle of “maximum economic recovery” from North Sea drilling, and Dame Caroline Spelman warns of the lessons of the net zero transition from shutting down coal mines in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The North Sea oil and gas industry is synonymous with Aberdeenshire and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK,” Bowie said. “Without a managed and successful transition to a net zero basin, we risk leaving communities face to the edge of the cliff as the world shifts away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner, cheaper renewable technologies.

Likewise, Siobhan Baillie, MP for Stroud, urged the government to strengthen its green skills policies. “We are facing a green skills emergency in the UK,” she said. “We know that 3.2 million workers will need to upgrade their skills if the UK is to meet its climate targets for 2050. This is an urgent issue not only for North Sea communities that depend on the oil and gas production, but across the UK, including Stroud. “

Sam Hall, director of CEN, said it was essential for the government to take action to address the economic risks that could result from the acceleration of the net zero transition.

“Moving away from fossil fuels is economically necessary given global trends towards cheaper and cleaner technologies, but it can and should also be done fairly for communities that depend on the oil and gas sector for well-paying jobs,” did he declare. “While the left has long advocated for a just transition away from fossil fuels, this collection of essays provides a range of ideas and political views that will resonate with conservatives and ensure that we harness market forces. to boost adoption of clean energy. It demonstrates that there is strong support from conservatives to accelerate the transition to future technologies, such as carbon capture and floating offshore wind in the North Sea, and to learn the lessons of the coal mine closures in the 1970s and 1980s. ”

The intervention comes the same week Prime Minister Boris Johnson drew criticism over comments suggesting coal pit closures in the 1980s should be welcome as they helped the UK cut emissions and government has faced fresh calls from activists to block Cambo’s oil project. field north of Shetland.

A letter signed by 80,000 people was delivered to Number 10 this week, urging the government to block plans by Siccar Point Energy and Shell to develop a new oil field in the North Sea, which activists say could extract at least 150 million barrels of oil in its first phase translates into emissions equivalent to operating a coal-fired power plant for 16 years.

Meanwhile, Labor’s Starmer has signaled that he will not support Cambo’s plans, as he called on the UK to establish a “specific timetable” for the cessation of oil and gas exploration.

“We must try to create a timetable for [the cessation of exploration]”, he said.” It has to be a matter of consensus and agreement, and we have to bring the communities with us. Otherwise, there will be a mismatch between the obligations we need to meet to address the climate crisis and the communities that are going to be hardest hit. “

Faced with questions about the controversial plans this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted the government “can’t just tear up contracts” but insisted it “hadn’t seen the proposals “for the new domain.

He also pointed out that “my big preference is to use our incredible power to generate clean electricity, and we can do it.”

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