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Denmark to end new oil and gas exploration in shift away from fossil fuel

·3-min read
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The Nordic country also agreed to cancel its latest licensing round, which allows companies to search for and produce oil and gas. Photo: istockphoto

Denmark’s government has said that it will end all new oil and gas exploration and extraction in the North Sea by 2050.

The Nordic country also agreed to cancel its latest licensing round, which allows companies to search for and produce oil and gas.

The move eight planned licensing rounds and future tenders cancelled. This means that 2050 is the last year in which the country will extract fossil fuels in the North Sea.

It comes as the country’s latest licensing round faced uncertainty after energy firm Total of France withdrew its bid in October, leaving only one applicant in the tender process.

The decision will cost Denmark DKr13bn (Danish kroner) ($2.1bn, £1.6bn, €1.6bn), according to the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities estimates. But, it said that the amount was subject to substantial uncertainty.

Denmark's climate minister, Dan Jorgensen said that the country is “putting a final end to the fossil fuel era.”

“We’re the European Union’s biggest oil producer and this decision will therefore resonate around the world.”

Industry experts welcomed the move, with Helene Hagel from Greenpeace Denmark calling it a “watershed moment.” She said that the results of the government’s parliamentary vote on Thursday, will catapult Denmark as a “green frontrunner” and inspire other nations to end their “dependence on climate-wrecking fossil fuels.”

READ MORE: BP CEO says net zero plan 'not charity'

Oil and gas production in Denmark has become an issue of political debate, after it agreed last year on one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets of reducing emissions by 70% by 2030 and being climate neutral in 2050.

Denmark is the EU’s biggest producer of oil and gas, which excludes Norway and the UK — which are both bigger producers. The country is estimated to produce 83,000 barrels of crude oil and another 21,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2020.

It began oil and gas exploration in 1972, with its North Sea revenues helping Denmark to become one of the European Union’s richest nations.

Global governments have also committed to take further action on climate change as part of a wider plan to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

On Friday, prime minister Boris Johnson said that the UK aims to cut its carbon emissions by at least 68% of what they were in 1990 by the end of 2030.

Denmark’s end-date in 2050 and the cancelled tender is likely to put pressure on Johnson as the UK prepares to lead efforts to tackle climate change at the United Nations climate talks in Glasgow in 2021.

But, scientists have warned that even if Britain and other countries stick to their goals on cutting emissions there was no guarantee the world would avoid serious global warming.

Watch: UN report highlights gap between countries' climate promises, energy plans

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