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January 8, 2024

Editor’s note: UK MP’s resignation ahead of offshore licensing bill debate

Chris Skidmore MP
Conservative MP Chris Skidmore says he has resigned in protest over the government’s plans to drill for more oil and gas in the North Sea (Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

The latest edition of our Sustainable Views newsletter

Dear reader,

Climate change became a political football in the UK last year, after the government watered down several key pledges in areas such as the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars in an apparent response to concerns about its electoral prospects. 

At the end of last week, it was thumped back into play when Conservative MP Chris Skidmore announced his resignation over the government’s plans to introduce the offshore petroleum licensing bill, which would oblige the North Sea Transition Authority to run annual applications for new offshore oil and gas licences and will be debated by MPs today. That’s despite the well-worn International Energy Agency report that demands no new licences if we are to achieve net zero by 2050 and limit global temperature increases to 1.5C.

Skidmore had already signalled his intention to leave parliament at the next general election, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week hinted would take place in the autumn. But the decision to stand down “as soon as possible” by the man who led an independent review of the government’s climate strategy last year – which criticised Sunak’s administration, suggesting the UK risked falling behind other countries on climate – represents the latest blow to a government that appears to be living on borrowed time. 

“The climate crisis that we face is too important to politicise or to ignore,” Skidmore wrote on X on January 5. In the UK, we’ll find out this autumn – maybe sooner – whether it was worth politicising at all.

Today, we bring you an opinion piece by Daniel Litwin, a research fellow at the European University Institute, who argues that the EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive should consider harmonised rules for finance. As Philippa revealed in her December scoop, the finance sector is partially excluded from the CSDDD, which Litwin claims could end up actually adding to the sector’s administrative burden. You can read Litwin’s arguments here.

Finally, we’ve got a fascinating piece from Natasha about the complexities of coral reef insurance. It’s a booming industry that is taking hold in countries including Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. 

But coral reefs aren’t cars – it’s not as simple as just buying a boilerplate policy then wrangling over payouts when a stranger crashes into them. These policies need to be adapted across local needs and come in two forms: indemnity policies, which involve damage assessments and longer payout periods; and parametric policies, which carry pre-agreed terms with quicker payouts if certain conditions are met. 

Until tomorrow,

Alex

Alex Janiaud is the senior investment correspondent at Sustainable Views 

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