Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary has confirmed the party’s plans to block all new domestic oil and gas developments if it wins power, instead proposing to invest heavily in renewable sources such as wind, and also in nuclear power. .
Jonathan Ashworth said details would be announced soon when asked about a report in the Sunday Times, in which unnamed Labor sources outlined a proposal for Keir Starmer to create a bar on new projects in the North Sea which is one of his “national missions”.
“What we’re going to do in the coming weeks is outline how we want to invest in green jobs in the future, to lower bills, to create a more sustainable energy supply,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday’s show.
“We will announce that in a key mission in the coming weeks, and we will announce more details.
“We know we need to move to more renewable energy sources. This is important for our climate change commitments, but it’s also the way we can lower energy bills for those consumer. It’s not about shutting down what’s happening now. We’re going to manage it sustainably.”
The proposals, expected to be formally set out by Starmer during a visit to Scotland next month, would involve not only a ban on new North Sea oil and gas licences, but a pledge that any borrowing for of investment should be limited to green schemes.
Asked if this would leave the country overly dependent on wind power, Ashworth said: “It’s a wrong attitude to say our policies depend on wind. Yes, we need to invest in wind. We need to us to invest in tidal [power]we should invest in nuclear.
“We need more sustainable sources of energy supply to lower bills for consumers and really create jobs in this green transition.”
The aim, he said, should be for the UK to become a world leader in the transition to green energy, and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
A Labor source told the Sunday Times that new North Sea drilling would not lower energy bills and undermine climate targets. Existing projects will be managed “sustainably”.
The proposal is the latest in a series of Labor promises about a move towards a greener economy, many of which have been pushed by Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary.
In 2021, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves announced that the party would invest £28bn a year in measures related to the climate crisis, covering not only green energy but also areas such as home insulation, active travel and flood defences.
At last year’s Labor conference, Keir Starmer said Labor would set up a publicly owned energy company powered by clean UK power, to be called Great British Energy.