British opposition leader Keir Starmer said on Thursday there would be no investment in new oil and gas fields in Britain under a Labor government – a major change from current UK energy policy.
Starmer said during a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos that his party wanted a new role for oil and gas in the energy transition.
“What we’ve said about oil and gas is that a transition is needed,” Starmer said in a panel.
“Of course it will play a role during that transition, but no new investments, no new fields in the North Sea, because we have to go to net zero, we have to make sure that renewable energy is the next step.”
Britain, led by the Conservative Party, has just held a new licensing round for oil and gas exploration permits and has refrained from joining international clubs of countries that ban new oil and gas field developments.
Climate activists have criticized Britain for this and Greenpeace is preparing a lawsuit against the permit round.
Starmer’s Labor Party leads the Conservatives in opinion polls by a wide margin, with the next UK election expected in 2024.
The oil and gas producers’ association, Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), said Starmer’s comments damaged investor confidence.
“Approximately 24 million homes (85% of the total) depend on gas boilers for heat and we get 42% of our electricity from gas. We also have 32 million vehicles that run on petrol and diesel. So we need gas and oil,” OEUK said in a statement.
“The companies that supply those fuels are the same companies that invest in the (energy) transition.”
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