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UK grants hundreds of new gas and oil licences

The number of the personal phone Rishi Sunak has used for years has been revealed online.

The number of the personal phone Rishi Sunak has used for years has been revealed online. Photo: AAP

The UK government will grant hundreds of new oil and gas licences in the North Sea in a bid for energy independence, ignoring calls to stop new fossil fuel projects.

The plans announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak include a pledge to invest STG20 billion ($A38 billion) in carbon capture and storage projects as Sunak maintained the government’s commitment to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050.

Sunak, who is travelling to Scotland to formally unveil the package, said on Monday that Britain will still need fossil fuels even after the country reaches its net zero target. 

He said it is better to produce oil and natural gas at home rather than rely on foreign leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine sent global energy prices soaring around the globe.

“We have all witnessed how Putin has manipulated and weaponised energy — disrupting supply and stalling growth in countries around the world,” Sunak said in a statement. 

“Now more than ever, it’s vital that we bolster our energy security and capitalise on that independence to deliver more affordable, clean energy to British homes and businesses.”

Sunak faces pressure to roll back expensive environmental commitments as his Conservative Party scrambles to attract voters amid opinion polls showing the party is likely headed toward a crushing defeat in the next general election.

But UN scientists and environmental campaigners are calling on governments around the world to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels after a summer of record high temperatures, drought and floods linked to man-made climate change. 

Burning oil and gas to power vehicles, factories and electricity-generating stations releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide, the main driver of global warming.

Britain began pumping oil and gas from the North Sea in the mid-1970s, a major source of jobs and tax revenue, particularly in Scotland. But production has been declining since around 2000, making support for the industry a major political issue.

-AAP

Topics: Rishi Sunak
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