Oil, gas have central role in British economy

June 17, 2013 at 8:07 AM

LONDON, June 17 (UPI) -- The British government will continue to rely on oil and natural gas reserves despite a push to advance a low-carbon economy, the British energy minister said.

The British government said it is committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of their 1990s benchmark by 2050. The commitment comes as members of the European Union debate climate goals to replace the 20 percent emissions reduction planned for 2020.

British Energy Minister Michael Fallon told the London energy conference the government was committed to a low-carbon future by reducing energy demand and facilitating renewable energy growth. He said the country would continue relying on imports of oil and natural gas, however, as reserves in the North Sea decline.

"I should stress at the same time the considerable investment opportunities that remain in the North Sea," he said in comments published Friday.

He said the British economy imported 32 percent of its oil needs in 2012, up from the 25 percent recorded for 2012.

"And even with our 80 percent greenhouse gas reduction goals, we are likely to import more oil in 2050 than we do today," he said.

Gas imports should increase from 49 percent in 2012 to 53 percent in 2020.

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