Labour leader, Keir Starmer has challenged the oil industry to as a matter of urgency, speed up its shift to clean energy by offering up to £2.5bn to subsidise new jobs in renewables for North Sea workers.
Starmer told executives from firms including Shell and BP that the UK is in a global race to move away from oil and gas, with competitor countries such as the US investing billions in climate-friendly technologies.
Recall that Starmer and Ed Miliband, the shadow climate secretary, hosted a roundtable with executives from 20 energy firms in Aberdeen on Thursday during a two-day visit to promote the party’s plans to decarbonise UK energy supplies by 2030 – a target date the oil industry is vigorously resisting.
Starmer is expected to announce on Friday that if Labour wins the next election, it would set up a £2.5bn “British jobs bonus” fund to prioritise investment in three clean energy technologies, in regions heavily dependent on North Sea oil, including around Aberdeen and north-east England.
The technologies would be: carbon capture to support industries that still need oil and gas to pipe their waste CO2 into depleted North Sea oilfields; building floating windfarms for deep-water sites; and in green hydrogen – a zero carbon fuel needed for energy-intensive industries such as steelmaking, railways and chemicals production.
Starmer said that Rishi Sunak’s recent decision to “max out” the North Sea’s oil and gas production and deprioritise green energy and technology investment is a strategic failure driven by the belief it will increase the Conservatives’ short-term electoral support, particularly in north-east Scotland.
“This Conservative party has zero ambition, zero plan and zero concern for the millions of British families suffering sky-high energy bills as a result of the government’s abject failure,” the Labour leader said.
Speaking further, he said “Every day that they play political games, causing uncertainty and investment risk for the sector, they are costing jobs and hitting people’s pockets. My Labour government will rise above short-termist gimmicks, put the country before our party, and deliver the long-term future of our energy industry.”
The oil industry lobbying group Offshore Energy UK (OEUK) says it is committed to a long-term transition to net zero but has embraced Sunak’s decision to license extraction in the Rosebank oil and gas field, the North Sea’s largest untapped field.
Story was adapted from the Guardian.