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UK to defy net zero targets with more oil and gas drilling

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Pressured by Tory right, minister to announce gas-heavy energy strategy with little emphasis on insulation

The UK government is set to order more drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea in defiance of its own net zero targets, while neglecting alternative measures that experts say would provide much quicker relief from high energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions instead of raising them.

The energy security strategy to be unveiled on Thursday will acknowledge the need to move away from fossil fuels, the Guardian understands, but still allow for licences to explore new oil and gas fields to be expedited and more production from existing North Sea fields.

A review of the scientific advice on the safety of fracking. The Guardian understands that Kwarteng thinks fracking in the UK is unrealistic and uneconomic, but under pressure from the right will keep the option open.

Doubling the target on the use of hydrogen, from 5GW to 10GW, of which half will come from “blue” hydrogen created from fossil fuels, despite evidence that it emits more carbon than coal. Ministers are expected to present blue hydrogen as a necessary bridge to future “green” hydrogen from renewable energy, but campaigners say it will lock in high emissions.

A boost to offshore wind, with the expansion of existing coastal offshore windfarms and potential new floating platforms in deeper waters, but solar energy risks being missed.

Investment in new nuclear reactors being made easier.

Few new measures on ramping up heat pumps and no comprehensive national programme to insulate housing on the scale experts say is feasible and would make a real difference to the cost of living.

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