Just Stop Oil’s message to turn off the taps in the North Sea is “despicable”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
Writing in The Times, he sought to distance himself from Just Stop Oil as the Conservatives attack Labor for accepting £1.5m donations from campaign group sponsor Dale Vince.
Sir Keir said he would only bar the granting of new licenses to explore oil and gas fields in the North Sea as he seeks to give companies certainty.
“Labor is once again the political wing of the British people and we have a plan to manage the transition to net zero,” he wrote.
“I will not trade the nation’s long-term interest for short-term political gain. I’m not going to let workers pay the price for this transition like the Tories did for the last one.”
Sir Keir added: “The likes of Just Stop Oil want us to simply turn off the taps in the North Sea, creating the same havoc for the workers they create on our roads. it is despicable.
“The same thing means saying you want clean energy as we move away from fossil fuels and then oppose nuclear power, even though it is vital to any viable plan to lower energy bills and provide energy security for workers.”
He said his party will work with the oil and gas sector to ensure a controlled transition to net-zero emissions, and would also “accumulate investment in future North Sea energy production alongside newer technologies such as capture and carbon and hydrogen storage.
Rishi Sunak has recently taken a tougher stance on net-zero issues, winning him favor with conservative members.
However, Sunak angered climate activists and eco-minded conservatives by announcing plans to “maximize” oil and gas reserves to grow the economy and seek safety after Vladimir Putin pressured Europe by cutting off supplies.
The Tories’ narrow victory to keep Uxbridge and South Ruislip in last month’s by-election has led to calls to rethink the way policies are implemented to alleviate the climate crisis.
Sunak has tried to present himself as siding with “motorists” after London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ulez anti-emissions charge was linked to Labour’s failure.
The prime minister has ordered a review of low-traffic neighborhood (LTN) schemes as some Conservatives push for an easing of environmental measures during a cost-of-living crisis.
But Environment Secretary Therese Coffey has warned her colleagues that abandoning green policies could cost the Conservatives the next general election.
“To win the next election, we must continue to show that we care about the environment,” he told the Mail on Sunday.
“We also need to show that there is a way to do that that doesn’t put a burden on working people.”
He insisted that ministers are not weakening efforts to reach net zero by 2050.
“Trust us on our track record, not the clickbait.”