Labour’s energy plans are “naive” and the party risks creating a “cliff edge” for production, a union chief has warned.
GMB general secretary Gary Smith said Labour’s policies “are going to create a cliff edge with oil and gas extraction from the North Sea”.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Smith described Labour as “naive”.
The proposals, confirmed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last week, would ban new licences for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea but still allow existing projects to continue until 2050 as part of the party’s push towards a green energy transition.
Speaking ahead of the GMB’s annual congress in Brighton, Smith said: “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 – take responsibility for our carbon emissions – or we are going to import more.
“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”.
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds defended the plans. He told the BBC that North Sea energy extraction would continue until 2050, protecting 28,000 workers.
He added: “But the big opportunity comes from the transition and we don’t think further new oil and gas fields are the answer.
“They won’t do anything for bills… [nor] for our energy security. They cost a lot of public subsidy [and] they clearly will be a climate disaster, but also there are better alternatives available.”
Reynolds stressed the need to “embrace change”, including renewables and green steel, adding: “The number of jobs that will be created by that is far in excess of the jobs currently there.”
It comes as the oil producers’ body, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), met on Sunday for tense discussions on possible cuts to output quotas amid flagging prices.
Talks faced three-hour delays, Reuters reported, in the face of a looming supply glut, before influential Gulf members led by Saudi Arabia aimed to persuade under-producing African nations such as Nigeria and Angola to have more realistic output targets, sources said.
With Joseph Draper, PA, and Reuters