UK Climate Committee urges energy businesses to commit to net zero targets


UK Climate Committee urges energy businesses to commit to net zero targets

The Chief Climate Advisor for the UK is urging oil and gas businesses to adopt a leading position in clean energy technology investment rather than waiting for the support of government subsidies.

The fossil fuel industry has stated that it can focus on the development of new technologies such as storage, carbon capturing and cleaner alternative fuels such as hydrogen to work towards net zero and tackle the challenge of climate change. Most projects supporting these new industries are still in relatively early stages of development and energy businesses have highlighted that government incentives are a necessity for these projects to develop on a larger scale. 

Chris Stark, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change has opposed this movement, stating that it was disappointing to see that the oil and gas industry was intending to wait for the government to implement the right measures or allocate a correct carbon pricing strategy. Stark believes that the people that need to be leading investment in new technologies such as carbon capture, storage and hydrogen should be coming directly from the oil and gas sector. Within the UK, carbon capturing schemes have been discussed for a number of years, yet no large scale project has been developed, particularly after two government subsidy schemes were cancelled. Leading businesses in the industry like Shell eradicated their plans after the scrapping of subsidies. 

A number of industry leaders are now refocusing their support towards clean technologies as pressure mounts to work towards net-zero by 2050. Energy developers believe that the majority of these projects will be reliant on government incentives. Andy Lane, managing director of the Net Zero Teeside project which has acquired the support of a number of oil majors believes that in order to create a world-leading clean technology industry to support economic growth will need the support of the government.

Stark believes that the industry needs these new technologies to be taken seriously if they are going to be capable of supporting a net zero future and oil and gas should be leading this movement.

The Committee on Climate Change believes that the risk that businesses will be left with significant amounts of stranded assets as more and more industries decrease their dependency on fossil fuels should be enough of an incentive to drive oil and gas to seriously support new clean energy technologies. UK oil and gas industry trade organisation OGUK believes that the success of technologies such as carbon capturing and storage will require collaboration and a proactive approach between industry, governments and regulators.

Stark believes the dominant theme for the near future should really focus on large corporations adopting net zero emission targets. Stark points to the recent announcement by Microsoft to be carbon negative by 2030 as an example of what other corporate businesses should be targeting. The committee has, however, highlighted their concerns regarding corporate carbon offsetting schemes and that if major corporates are relying on these schemes then progress will be limited.

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