Speaking to leaders in the oil and gas industry at International Petroleum Week on February 27th, the International Trade Secretary said that the UK government “will not use Brexit as a means or an excuse to lower environmental standards” as he called climate change “undoubtedly one of the most pressing” challenges “beyond Brexit”.
Dr Fox said: “The UK is legally committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% between 1990 and 2050. This is a commitment that is part of our domestic law through the Climate Change Act, not EU law.
“Our environmental standards are already above the EU minimum. If this Government had wanted to use Brexit to reduce environmental standards, we would have reduced them already.
“Reducing our environmental standards would not be in the UK’s interest. The United Kingdom’s comparative advantage is in quality, not price, and that includes high environmental standards.”
He will then point to the tangible measures the government has taken to combat climate change including “a world-leading commitment to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040” and closing “our remaining coal-fired power stations by 2025.”
On the role of the oil and gas sector in the UK energy mix, he said:
“In Climate Change as in all things, we must never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
“We must focus on a low-carbon future but the simple fact is that for the moment we do require fossil fuels to deliver secure and affordable energy.
“That need for oil and gas is especially pressing for countries in the third world, who need affordable energy to grow their economies to a level we take for granted.”
He highlighted the importance of the sector to the UK which is “estimated to have directly employed 37,000 people across the United Kingdom last year, and a further 127,000 in related supply chains” and “contributed billions in tax revenues, year after year, which fund our public services.”
Concluding, he told industry leaders: “Our commitment to work with the oil and gas industry to deliver an affordable, secure, cleaner energy future is something you can rely on. And our commitment to tackle climate change is something you can rely upon: a fixed point on the firmament for any investor.”