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Rishi Sunak defends flying to Scotland by private jet to announce carbon capture project

Rishi Sunak has defended flying to Scotland by private plane to announce millions of pounds of funding for a carbon capture and storage project to combat climate change.

The Prime Minister said flying was “the most efficient use of my time” and that the answer to tackling global warming was not “getting people to ban everything they’re doing”.

Mr Sunak will be in Aberdeenshire on Monday to announce funding for the Acorn carbon capture project, a joint venture between Shell UK and other companies.

The investment could see up to 21,000 jobs created in the region and would become Scotland’s first carbon capture and storage facility, involving harmful greenhouse gas emissions being piped under the North Sea.

Such schemes are designed to prevent the release of CO2 into the atmosphere by capturing it at the point where the fossil fuel is being burnt. However, environmental groups said the investment was “handing more money to polluters”.

Asked how he would be travelling to Scotland to make the announcement, Mr Sunak told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I’ll be flying as I normally would, that is the most efficient use of my time.

“Actually I think that question brings to life a great debate here. If you or others think that the answer to climate change is getting people to ban everything that they’re doing – to stop people going on holiday – I think that’s absolutely the wrong approach.

“Every Prime Minister before me has also used planes to travel around the United Kingdom because it’s an efficient use of time for the person running the country, so I can keep focusing on delivering for people.

“But if your approach to climate change is to say ‘No one should go on a holiday, no one should take a plane’, I think you are completely and utterly wrong.

“That is absolutely not the approach to tackling climate change. What we are doing is investing in sustainable aviation fuel, as one of the new technologies like carbon capture and storage will help us make the transition.

“It’s not about banning flying, it’s about investing in new technologies, like sustainable aviation fuel, that will make flying more sustainable.”

Mr Sunak also confirmed that hundreds of new oil and gas licences will be granted in the UK, in a move expected to trigger a furious reaction from environmental campaigners.

He argued that the country would have a continuing need for fossil fuels, saying: “Even when we reach net zero in 2050 a quarter of our energy needs will still come from oil and gas.”

The Prime Minister also said using domestic oil and gas would be better for the environment than importing it and that the licences would improve the UK’s energy security.

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