Speaking to oil and gas leaders at the International Petroleum Week yesterday, he highlighted the importance of the industry to the UK, which is estimated to have directly employed 37,000 people last year and a further 127,000 in related supply chains, whilst contributing “billions in tax revenues”.
He said: “In climate change as in all things, we must never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We must focus on a low carbon future but the simple fact is that for the moment, we do require fossil fuels to deliver secure and affordable energy.
“That need for oil and gas is especially pressing for countries in the third world, who need affordable energy to grow their economies to a level we take for granted.
“Our commitment to work with the oil and gas industry to deliver an affordable, secure, cleaner future is something you can rely on. And our commitment to tackle climate change is something you can rely upon: a fixed point on the firmament for any investor.”
Mr Fox added the government “will not use Brexit as a means or an excuse” to lower environmental standards, saying it is not in the UK’s interest to do so and called climate change “undoubtedly one of the most pressing challenges” beyond Brexit.
He said: “The UK is legally committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% between 1990 and 2050. This is a commitment that is part of our domestic law through the Climate Change Act, not EU law.
“Our environmental standards are already above the EU minimum. If this government had wanted to use Brexit to reduce environmental standards, we would have reduced them already.
“The United Kingdom’s comparative advantage is in quality, not price and that includes high environmental standards.”