UK’s new energy chief says fracking is interesting, we need fossil fuels

Jacob Rees-Mogg pictured in London September 7, 2022. Lawmakers have recently called for more fossil fuel extraction from the North Sea.

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LONDON — Britain’s new secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy is a lawmaker who recently called for more fossil fuel extraction from the North Sea and described fracking as an “opportunity interesting”.

Jacob-Rees Mogg, who is the MP for North East Somerset in south-west England, was confirmed in office on Tuesday evening.

In a phone call with LBC radio station in April, and ahead of his post in the Cabinet of new Prime Minister Liz Truss, Rees-Mogg gave insight into how he could look to shape policy in the months coming.

“We have to think about extracting every cubic centimeter of gas from the North Sea because we want security of supply,” he said.

“But 2050 is a long way off,” he added, referring to the UK’s legally binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by the middle of this century. .

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“We’re not trying to go net zero tomorrow, and we’re going to need fossil fuels in the meantime, and we should use ours, which we have,” Rees-Mogg said.

Later he doubled down on the need for fossil fuels, saying “we want to get oil out of the North Sea, we want to get more gas out of the North Sea.”

And on hydraulic fracturing, or hydraulic fracturing, Rees-Mogg said, “if we’re sitting on tons of gas, it looks like a pretty good opportunity.”

Such a view contrasts sharply with the views expressed by high profile figures such as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Last June, Guterres criticized new funding for fossil fuel exploration, calling it “delusional” and calling for fossil fuel funding to be scrapped.

Go nuclear

In his phone call with LBC, Rees-Mogg said he was “very supportive of going nuclear” and “very interested in…modular nuclear reactors.”

Offshore wind, he said, “was providing an increasing share of our supply, and that’s important, but you don’t always know where the wind is going to blow, that’s the problem, while nuclear provides base load”.

Rees-Mogg was also skeptical about the importance of acting now when it comes to deploying renewable energy and tackling climate change. Speaking to ChatPolitics in 2014, for example, he said he “wishes my constituents had cheap power rather than I wish they had wind turbines”.

Asked about the climate and global warming, he offered the following take. “I’m all for long-term policymaking, but I think trying to predict the climate over a thousand years and the small steps you’re taking now having the ability to change it is unrealistic, and I think the cost is probably unaffordable.You have to look to improve the consequences of whatever happens.

Rees-Mogg’s views have already drawn a barrage of criticism from environmental organizations.

Dave Timms, political affairs manager at Friends of the Earth, said putting Rees-Mogg in charge of energy policy was “deeply worrying for anyone concerned about the deepening climate emergency, solving the the cost of living crisis and the reduction of our fuel bills”. for real.”

Elsewhere, Greenpeace UK policy officer Rebecca Newsom described Rees-Mogg as “the last person who should be in charge of the energy file, at the worst possible time”.

CNBC reached out to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for comment, but did not receive a response before this story was published.

energy crisis

Rees-Mogg is part of the cabinet assembled by the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss.

Truss takes office at a time of significant turmoil and uncertainty in energy markets, with many European countries attempting to wean themselves off Russian fossil fuels after the Kremlin invaded Ukraine.

During an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg over the weekend, Truss gave some insight into her views on the matter.

“In fact, as a country, we are relatively little dependent on Russian gas,” she said, noting that this was not the case in Europe.

It was important, she continued, “that we develop renewable energy, that we develop nuclear, that we work with our European partners to develop alternative forms of energy”.

“It is also very important that we use the resources of the North Sea,” said Truss, who was speaking ahead of his victory in the Conservative Party leadership race.

“We can do more to exploit current gas fields. I support the exploration of hydraulic fracturing in parts of the UK where it can be done.”

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