UK Conservative Party whip Chris Skidmore, the former energy minister who signed the country’s 2050 net-zero, has resigned his House of Commons seat after the government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took steps to issue a new round of oil and gas leases in the North Sea.
Skidmore announcement late last week initially set up an “awkward vote” for Sunak this week, and an “even more difficult byelection” coming up in Skidmore’s former Kingswood constituency, the Guardian said Friday. The government’s proposed Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill was due for second reading Monday, but UK media reported late in the day that it had been delayed, ostensibly due to a lack of time for Commons debate.
The bill, which is expected to be brought back in the next two weeks, “would in effect allow more frequent new oil and gas licences and the increased production of new fossil fuels in the North Sea,” Skidmore said in his resignation statement. “I can also no longer condone nor continue to support a government that is committed to a course of action that I know is wrong and will cause future harm. To fail to act, rather than merely speak out, is to tolerate a status quo that cannot be sustained. I am therefore resigning my party whip [position] and instead intend to be free from any party-political allegiance.”
While the Sunak government sometimes pitches increased oil and gas production as a boon to domestic energy security, analysis by the UK’s Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit concludes the new licences would account for less than 1% of an average tank of petrol by 2030.
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