Labour’s plans, according to Gary Smith, general secretary of the GMB union, “are going to create a cliff edge with oil and gas extraction from the North Sea.”
After shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds supported proposals to outlaw oil and gas extraction, Mr. Smith referred to Labour as “naïve” in an interview with Sky News on Sunday morning.
He urged the party to cease prioritizing what was “popular” over what was best for the nation and said that industrial workers were “very worried” about the proposals.
As part of the party’s drive toward a transition to green energy, the proposals, which were revealed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last week, would prohibit new licenses for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea while continuing to permit ongoing projects to operate until 2050.
Speaking ahead of the GMB annual congress in Brighton on Sunday, the general secretary told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “Their policies are going to create a cliff edge with oil and gas extraction from the North Sea.
“There is a lot of oil and gas in the North Sea and the alternatives facing the country are that we either produce our own oil and gas – take responsibility for our carbon emissions – or we are going to import more oil and gas.
“I think workers in the petrochemical industry … are going to be very worried about what Labour are saying and I think it is time for Labour to focus on the right thing rather than what they think is the popular thing.”
He said that the sector had been promised “tens of thousands of jobs” in renewable energy “time and time again” but that they “simply have not emerged”, adding: “That has been the sorry state of the renewables industry around the country.”
According to Mr. Reynolds, who stood by the proposals, energy extraction in the North Sea will continue until 2050, protecting the 28,000 industry workers.
“But the big opportunity comes from the transition and we don’t think further new oil and gas fields are the answer,” he added.
“First of all because they won’t do anything for bills, they won’t do anything for our energy security, they cost a lot of public subsidy, they clearly will be a climate disaster, but also there are better alternatives available.”
The shadow business secretary said there is a need to be “embracing that change”, which includes renewables and green steel, adding: “The number of jobs that will be created by that is far in excess of the jobs currently there.”