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PM sets up oil and gas taskforce to plot a way out of the energy crisis

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Now Boris maps his way OUT of Net Zero agenda: PM sets up oil and gas taskforce to plot a way out of the energy crisis gripping Europe and cut UK reliance on Putin’s Russia

  • PM will set up energy task force to grow Britain’s oil, gas and nuclear supplies   
  • Two senior industry experts at its head will report directly to the Prime Minister  
  • Sources said the task force aims to boost the UK’s energy self-sufficiency in the wake of the war in Ukraine and keep energy bills down

Boris Johnson will set up an energy task force to bolster the UK’s oil, gas and nuclear supplies as he plots a way out of the energy crisis.

Two senior industry experts at its head will report directly to the Prime Minister and advise on a ‘transition period’ focusing on fossil fuels – as the Government signals its clearest move yet away from the Net Zero target.

Sources said the task force has the twin aim of boosting the UK’s energy self-sufficiency in the wake of the war in Ukraine and keeping household energy bills down.

Government insiders have privately admitted the Government’s focus on decarbonising the economy by 2050 has to be dropped in the short term. 

It comes as the Prime Minister stressed the need for Europe to rid itself of its dependency on Russian oil and gas, and Ministers grapple with spiralling heating costs.

Boris Johnson will set up an energy task force to bolster the UK's oil, gas and nuclear supplies as he plots a way out of the energy crisis

Boris Johnson will set up an energy task force to bolster the UK’s oil, gas and nuclear supplies as he plots a way out of the energy crisis

‘We don’t want to be at the mercy of brutal dictators like Putin,’ said a source familiar with the plan.

One insider said: ‘Net Zero is dead.’ Another said a clear directive against the ‘green agenda’ and away from Net Zero has been set by political strategist Sir Lynton Crosby, who has been advising the Prime Minister.

Last night, a senior Downing Street source insisted the Net Zero 2050 target has not been scrapped and was still the ultimate goal. But they admitted that in the short term the focus will shift back to fossil fuels to ease the pain for British households.

This will include oil and gas from the North Sea and Canada, while fracking is also now on the table.

One insider said:'Net Zero is dead.' Another said a clear directive against the'green agenda' and away from Net Zero has been set by political strategist Sir Lynton Crosby, who has been advising the Prime Minister

One insider said: ‘Net Zero is dead.’ Another said a clear directive against the ‘green agenda’ and away from Net Zero has been set by political strategist Sir Lynton Crosby, who has been advising the Prime Minister

The source insisted, though, that ‘in the long term the goal is still the same’ on renewable energy and Net Zero.

The new task force is also expected to produce actionable plans for boosting the UK’s use of solar and wind power and nuclear energy – developing ‘more reliable home-grown British energy’.

However, the source added the pursuit of Net Zero would be out of ‘practical necessity, not lofty green commitments’.

The task force will be ‘very action-focused’, sources said, with its two experts empowered to ‘cut through’ Civil Service red tape and bring together the Treasury, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department and planning departments. Two candidates – one academic and another involved in energy finance – are in discussions for the positions.

The roles have been modelled in part on Kate Bingham, who was brought in to chair the UK vaccine task force in 2020.

Downing Street Chief of Staff Steve Barclay will chair a Cabinet sub-committee focusing on revamping energy policy.

Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Nigel Farage was launching a campaign for a referendum on the 2050 target. 

It comes as MPs and peers have urged the Government to open the door to commercial fracking to exploit the UK’s shale gas reserves and help reduce its dependence on foreign gas. The calls have been backed by Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Sources said the task force aims to boost the UK's energy self-sufficiency in the wake of the war in Ukraine and keep energy bills down

Sources said the task force aims to boost the UK’s energy self-sufficiency in the wake of the war in Ukraine and keep energy bills down

Nearly 40 members of the Tory Net Zero Security Group have written to the Prime Minister to urge him to stop the UK’s two shale gas wells being concreted over this week.

Civil servants have been accused by Government insiders of being ‘too risk-averse’ and ‘institutional’ in their approach to fracking.

Critics say uncertainty over fracking generating enough energy is outweighed by its environmental risks.

The Prime Minister will launch his energy strategy as part of a push to refocus on the domestic agenda. Mr Johnson has told aides: ‘We cannot let war become the new Covid.’

He is said to regard the UK’s increased flow of weapons to eastern European countries to see off the Kremlin threat as a chance to boost jobs – especially in Red Wall seats.

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