A LEADING oil and gas expert has suggested that UK and Scottish ministers draw up “an integrated energy policy” to give licence to climate charge targets to ensure that “painful unintended consequences” are avoided.

The UK Government has been urged that “an effective carbon price” should be ”incorporated in the costs of investors” wanting to open up new oil and gas developments in the North Sea, as part of a climate compatibility check.

The Scottish Government is due to publish an updated energy strategy in the spring while the UK Government made public its energy white paper in December 2020.

Both governments have broadly similar aims in terms of climate targets – the UK committing to become net zero by 2050 and Scotland by 2045.

But a leading professor has warned that climate targets could be put at risk as well as the economy placed into peril is there is no joined-up strategy.

Writing exclusively for the Herald’s Scotland’s Future series, Professor Alex Kemp from Aberdeen University, has issued a warning that “inadequate attention has been given to the concept of an integrated energy policy in the context of climate change targets”.

He added: “For many years the idea has been accepted that a sensible policy should provide for security of supply of energy at affordable prices as well as giving full attention to the environmental consequences of energy production and consumption.

“If attention is not given to all of these painful unintended consequences may emerge. The unintended consequences may not only adversely affect the economic welfare of our population but even jeopardise the efficient attainment of the climate change objective.”

Professor Kemp has suggested that the UK will remain a “substantial” net importer of oil and gas until 2050 and has pointed to an “increased domestic production of gas and oil to enhance security of supply and reduce imports”.


Turning to whether new oil and gas developments in the North Sea should be approved by the UK Government in line with net zero commitments, Professor Kemp has said that “an effective carbon price reflecting the damage to the climate should be incorporated in the costs of investors and thus in the ultimate decision-making”.

'Carbon pricing' is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adding a cost to the creation of emissions.

The UK Emissions Trading System (ETS), drawn up last year, caps the total level of greenhouse gas emissions, creating a carbon market with a carbon price signal to incentivise decarbonisation.