Jacob Rees-Mogg, pictured in London on September 7, 2022. The lawmaker recently called for increased extraction of fossil fuels 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 increased North Sea fossil fuel production and called fracking an “interesting opportunity.”
Jacob-Rees Mogg, who is the MP for North East Somerset in South West England, was confirmed in his post on Tuesday evening.
In a telephone conversation with LBC back in April, and ahead of his post in the cabinet of new Prime Minister Liz Truss, Rees-Mogg offered some insight into what he might look like in shaping policy in the coming months.
“We need to think about extracting every cubic inch of gas from the North Sea because we want security of supply,” he said.
“But 2050 is a long time,” he added, referring to the UK’s legally binding target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by the middle of this century.
“We’re not trying to get to net zero tomorrow, and in the meantime we’re going to need fossil fuels and we have to use what we have,” Rees-Mogg said.
He later doubled down on the need for fossil fuels, saying “we want to get oil from the North Sea, we want to get more gas from the North Sea”.
And regarding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, Rees-Mogg said, “when we’re sitting on tons of gas, it seems like a pretty interesting possibility.”
This view is in stark contrast to the views expressed by such high-ranking figures as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Back in June, Guterres criticized the new funding for fossil fuel exploration, calling it a “delusion” and calling for an end to fossil fuel funding.
Transition to nuclear weapons
In a telephone conversation with LBC, Rees-Mogg said he was “very supportive of nuclear production” and “very interested in … modular nuclear reactors”.
Offshore wind, he said, “provides more and more of our supply, and that’s important, but you don’t always know where the wind is going to blow, that’s the problem, whereas nuclear provides the baseload.”
Rees-Mogg is also skeptical about the importance of acting now when it comes to deploying renewable energy and tackling climate change. For example, he told ChatPolitics in 2014 that he “would like my constituents to have cheap energy more than I would like them to have windmills.”
When asked about climate and global warming, he offered the following option. “I’m all for a long-term policy, but I think trying to predict the climate a thousand years out and the small steps you take now to be able to change it is unrealistic and I think the cost is probably unaffordable. You need to look at mitigating anything that could happen.”
Rees-Mogg’s views have already drawn a barrage of criticism from environmental organisations.
Dave Timms, head of policy at Friends of the Earth, said the appointment of Rees-Mogg as energy policy was “deeply worrying for everyone concerned about the deepening climate emergency, tackling the cost of living crisis and lower fuel bills”. for good”.
Elsewhere, Greenpeace UK head of policy, Rebecca Newsom, described Rees-Mogg as “the last person who should be in charge of energy at the worst possible time”.
CNBC contacted the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for comment, but did not hear back before publishing this story.
Rees-Mogg is part of the cabinet assembled by the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Tras takes office at a time of significant upheaval and uncertainty in energy markets, as many European countries try to wean themselves off Russian fossil fuels following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuensberg over the weekend, Truss gave some insight into her views on the matter.
“Actually, as a country, we rely relatively little on gas from Russia,” she said, noting that this is not the case in Europe.
She went on to say that it is important that we develop renewable energy, that we develop nuclear power, that we work with our European partners to develop alternative forms of energy.
“It’s also very important that we use the resources in the North Sea,” Truss said, speaking before announcing her victory in the Conservative Party leadership contest.
“We can do more to exploit the current gas fields. I support the study of fracking in those parts of the UK where possible.’