THE UK GOVERNMENT has announced a new consultation on its ‘Climate Compatibility Checkpoint’ which will assess the impact of future offshore oil and gas developments on the climate crisis.

Friends of the Earth warns the new mechanism is unfit for purpose, because it will fail to stop new climate-wrecking projects being approved.

Under the plans launched on 20 December 2021, only new licensing rounds for offshore oil and gas will be assessed using the checkpoint. However, projects that have so far been licensed but not yet approved for development will not be considered. This goes against the checkpoint’s aim of ensuring the UK complies with global efforts to curb climate breakdown.

In October, Friends of the Earth revealed that 30 licensed offshore projects were expected to receive a decision on development consent before 2025. Collectively, these developments are projected to emit around a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent if given the green light. However, as part of the new process outlined by the government today, they do not qualify for assessment. This is in spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence that no new oil and gas developments can be approved if global heating is to be limited to 1.5 degrees.

Reacting to the announcement, Danny Gross, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The idea that a new oil or gas project can ever be ‘climate compatible’ is pure fantasy. Scientists have told us repeatedly that approving new developments is inconsistent with limiting global heating to 1.5. Yet our leaders continue to say one thing and do another, with puffed-up announcements that offer little on close inspection.

“If this new checkpoint leaves the door open to future oil and gas licenses, the UK will fall catastrophically behind on climate and importantly, phasing out fossil fuels. Considering the government holds the COP presidency until late next year, the coming months are ripe with opportunity for the UK to set a good example. This approach is half-baked and undermines the UK’s climate credibility.”

By introducing the new checkpoint, the UK remains ineligible to join a new coalition called the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) as a full member. Launched at last month’s climate talks, the coalition includes Ireland and Wales as members. To join as a full member, the UK would be required to make a commitment to end all new licensing rounds, as well as phase out oil and gas production in line with the Paris Agreement.

The government is also consulting on whether to include a test to assess the ‘end-use’ emissions caused by potential new sites. ‘End-use’ refers to the emissions created when the oil and gas is burned. It is vital that the government includes this test as part of the checkpoint.

The consultation on the Climate Compatibility Checkpoint is scheduled to last until 28 February 2022.

* Read and respond to the Consultation here.

* Source: Friends of the Earth