Boris could ‘ease off’ Net Zero target to counter Russia threat: Tory calls to ramp up North Sea oil production and revive fracking to reduce reliance on Putin’s oil and gas
- Boris Johnson is said to believe West should ramp up its own gas production
- Such a move would help to end the EU’s reliance on energy supplied by Russia
- Prime Minister is under growing pressure from some Tory MPs to revive fracking
- Mr Johnson is also facing calls to rethink his Government’s Net Zero policy
Tory MPs are urging Boris Johnson to dramatically ramp up the UK’s domestic gas production and to re-examine his Net Zero by 2050 plan after the Ukraine crisis rocked energy markets.
Conservative backbenchers believe the Russian invasion has ‘materially changed’ the energy picture and ministers should be doing ‘everything we can to produce as much energy domestically as possible’.
Tory MPs are pushing the Government to increase the UK’s production of oil and gas, and to reverse a moratorium it has placed on domestic fracking.
Mr Johnson reportedly believes the West should be given a temporary ‘climate change pass’ and increase its production of gas to rob Vladimir Putin of the energy ‘leverage’ he has over Europe.
A Government source told The Times: ‘The Prime Minister has been very clear that one of the massive problems is the leverage that Putin has over a number of European countries over gas and oil.
‘We have to address this over the short term, mid term and long term. The Prime Minister is interested in giving the gas industry a climate pass in the transition to nuclear and renewables.’
Another source told Politico that countries could give themselves a ‘pass’ which would see them temporarily ‘easing off Net Zero’ targets.
The UK has committed to hitting Net Zero emissions by 2050 and there have been no signs the Government is poised to relax or scrap the target – despite mounting pressure from Tory MPs for a rethink.
The Prime Minister is said to be of the view that large nations like the US and Canada should ramp up their energy production in order to help wean the EU off Russian gas
Conservative MPs are pushing the Government to increase the UK’s production of oil and gas, and to reverse a moratorium it has placed on domestic fracking
The Ukraine crisis is expected to worsen the cost of living crisis in the UK which was already spiraling before Russia launched its invasion.
Mr Johnson is under growing pressure from Conservative MPs to boost the UK’s domestic energy production to ease pressure on households.
Some Tory MPs want the Government to reverse its opposition to commercial fracking so the UK can exploit its shale gas reserves and reduce reliance on foreign gas supplies.
Nearly 40 MPs and peers in the Tory Net Zero Security Group are writing to the Prime Minister to urge him to stop the UK’s only two shale gas wells being concreted over within the next ten days.
Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the group – which was set up to scrutinise the Government’s plans to hit climate change targets – called on Mr Johnson to pause an Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) order that the two sites in Lancashire be plugged by March 15.
Tory MPs have warned the ban on fracking is ‘total lunacy’ in the light of the events in Ukraine.
Marcus Fysh told MailOnline: ‘The situation has materially changed and we need to do everything we can to produce as much energy domestically as possible, including relatively clean fossil fuel energy such as gas.’
Mr Fysh said the Government’s Net Zero plan must be ‘looked at again’ to take into account the impact of the Ukraine crisis on energy markets.
Former minister Steve Baker said: ‘Even with our Net Zero transition we will be burning gas for years.
‘We should be doing everything we can with the vigour of a national war effort to make sure that gas is not Putin’s.’
There have been some suggestions in Whitehall that the Government could pump more oil and gas from the North Sea but Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is opposed to such a move.
Tory former minister John Redwood told the BBC’s Westminster Hour programme that the UK should boost its domestic gas production.
He said: ‘I agree with the European Union and other advocates of the green transition that gas is the transition fuel, better than coal for example.
Map showing potential areas of shale oil and gas and licensed areas (pictured)
‘And you have to accept that this is going to be the decade of gas. We are not ready yet to have enough renewables in a form that can work for industry and heating homes because people haven’t installed electric heating, they haven’t bought electric vehicles.
‘So this decade we still need to be able to fuel the vehicles and fuel the homes and fuel industry above all that relies very heavily on gas.
‘I am putting in this plea that we can both collect a lot more tax and create less CO2 if we have more of our own gas. It seems a very easy proposition and some of that could be on-shore.’
Mr Johnson is facing growing political pressure over the Government’s Net Zero push amid fears the green drive will hit consumers in the pocket.
Nigel Farage, the former Brexit Party leader, recently announced he is launching a political movement to campaign for a referendum on the policy.