UK ministers are considering a ban on new oil exploration licenses in the North Sea as a move away from fossil fuels, a step that could hit jobs and the Scottish economy, the Telegraph reported.
Britain is considering options that include ending permits in 2040, and an immediate temporary pause in licensing, the newspaper reported. It’s also possible that there will be no changes.
The UK has a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and is increasingly looking to renewables for a greater share of energy.
Oil output from the North Sea has dropped since the turn of the century as fields have got older. Still, the region is crucial for Scotland’s tax revenue and creating jobs. Some production from the area also make up the global Brent benchmark pricing.
About 39% of the 270,000 jobs in the UK that the oil industry supports are in Scotland, according to the Telegraph.
The newspaper highlighted that such a ban on new North Sea exploration would be “particularly controversial” in Scotland.
It comes after the Social Democrat government of Denmark announced a ban on new exploration for its portion of the North Sea back in December.
The Greenpeace activist group welcomed that news as “what climate leadership looks like”, urging UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take note ahead of the COP 26 conference in Glasgow in November.