Environment

UK urges nations to end fossil fuel extraction - while planning 40 projects at home

A new report from Friends of the Earth and the New Economics Foundation has revealed dozens of fossil fuel projects may be approved in the UK by 2025.

The UK could approve 40 fossil fuel projects by 2050. Photo: Michael Elleray

Phasing out fossil fuels globally will be a key item on the government’s COP26 agenda – but at home, the UK has at least 40 coal, oil and gas projects on track for approval by 2025. 

A new report from Friends of the Earth (FoE) and the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has revealed that dozens of fossil fuel projects may be approved in the next three years despite repeated warnings that such projects are incompatible with climate targets. 

FoE campaigner Danny Gross said COP26 would prove “embarrassing” for Boris Johnson if he fails to “end support for new fossil fuel extraction projects, here and elsewhere, immediately”. 

According to the FoE and NEF’s report, 30 offshore oil and gas projects, seven onshore developments and three coal mines are planning to seek approval by 2025.

Combined, the 40 developments are projected to emit almost triple the UK’s annual greenhouse gas emissions over their lifetime, standing at odds with government pledges to curb reliance on fossil fuels.

A large number of projects are planned for development in the North Sea, but several are seeking approval on land in locations including Cumbria, East Yorkshire and Dorset. 

Earlier this year, environmental experts took the government to court over its decision to let  BP drill in Vorlich oil field while “completely ignoring” the impact on the climate.

The report also examined UK financing of international projects, saying that a planned gas project in Mozambique could produce more greenhouse gas than the combined emissions of all 27 EU countries over its lifespan.

Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said no new fossil fuels projects should be approved if ambitions to keep global heating below 1.5C are to be met.

In light of their findings, FoE and the NEF have called on the UK government to immediately halt support for fossil fuel projects at home and abroad, producing a roadmap to detail how it will phase out extraction. 

Danny Gross, FoE campaigner said: “The science is clear that to prevent climate breakdown, no new coal, oil or gas extraction projects can be approved. The government is failing to listen to this simple truth. 

“It’s in the industry’s interests to push through new developments because it knows the writing is on the wall, but it’s up to the government to put our ailing planet and the people on it first.”

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