UK government seeks views on new oil and gas climate checkpoint

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The UK government has launched a consultation on the design of a new climate compatibility checkpoint for the oil and gas industry.

The checkpoint will be a new measure carried out before each future oil and gas licensing process to ensure any new licences are only awarded on the basis that they are aligned with the UK’s climate change commitments, including the UK’s target of reaching net zero by 2050.

This follows a commitment earlier this year to introduce the checkpoint as part of the North Sea Transition Deal.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands commented on the announcement: “This new checkpoint will be key to our plans to support the oil and gas sector during its net zero transition.

“It helps safeguard the future of this vital UK industry as we create more opportunities for green jobs and investment across the country.”

The consultation, now open for views, sets out potential tests that could be used to assess new licenses, including domestic demand for oil and gas, the sector’s projected production levels, the increasing prevalence of clean technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen generation, and the sector’s continued progress against emissions reduction targets.

The consultation will give interested parties, including oil and gas industry stakeholders, the opportunity to input on the design of the new climate compatibility checkpoint.

Respondents are invited to give their views on the proposed principles, structure, and content of the checkpoint.

Using the feedback given, the checkpoint will then be established as a new measure to assess potential future licences.

This checkpoint will ensure any future licences are granted only on the basis that they are compatible with the UK’s climate change objectives. If the evidence suggests that a future licensing round would undermine the UK’s climate goals or ability to reach net zero, it will not go ahead.

The new checkpoint will be an additional layer of scrutiny applied to future licences, on top of the existing measures that already apply to UK oil and gas developments, including the environmental assessment carried out by the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommission (OPRED), and the net zero impact assessment carried out by the Oil and Gas Authority as part of its consent process for new licences.

This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 28th February 2022.

More information about this consultation and how to take part is available on the UK Government website.