Labour's commitment to end new gas and oil developments welcomed

Press release
Over 140 organisations sign open letter
  Published:  05 Jun 2023    |      2 minute read
  • The open letter and full list of signatories is here

Leading environmental and social justice organisations, with members spanning tens of millions of supporters across the UK, are warning that opening new oil and gas fields will lock the UK into higher energy bills for longer, won’t improve the UK’s energy security and will make securing a liveable planet much harder.

In a letter to Keir Starmer welcoming his commitment to end new oil and gas developments, more than 140 organisations, including RSPB, the National Federation of Women's Institutes, Save the Children, Friends of the Earth, WWF-UK and UNISON Scotland, refute claims by the oil and gas industry that the North Sea is still central to UK energy security.

The letter states: “The only way to ensure we have secure, affordable energy is to accelerate domestic renewable energy production and improve the energy efficiency of our buildings. New oil and gas fields put more money in the hands of rich energy companies and foreign governments whilst leaving Britain colder and poorer.”

As leaders meet for the Bonn Climate Change Conference, which starts this week, to discuss this year’s COP28 climate talks, the letter also points to the consensus around the need to phase out oil and gas. Policy to end new fossil fuel developments is now supported by expert bodies including the International Energy Agency, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Health Organisation, the UN Secretary General and the government’s own net zero tsar, Chris Skidmore MP.

The letter also:

  • Warns that new gas and oil fields will take us further from the goals of securing a liveable planet, achieving lower bills for households, enhancing our energy security and improving economic opportunities across the country – as well as undermining UK climate leadership.

  • States that the transformation of the North Sea’s future must be rooted in the needs of workers and their communities, and highlights that with the right policy support, job creation in clean energy industries can exceed the number of displaced oil and gas jobs by more than three-fold.

Tessa Khan, Executive Director of Uplift, said:

"Labour have clearly looked below the surface and seen that new North Sea drilling is a terrible deal for the UK public. It won't lower energy bills because the companies that own the oil and gas either export it or sell it back to us for enormous profit; and we're giving oil and gas companies billions in subsidies at a time they're making record profits.

“Countless scientists have also made it clear that any new oil and gas fields will mean we blow past safe climate limits, so focusing on renewable energy rather than doubling down on oil and gas production is the obvious solution to our energy affordability crisis and the climate crisis.

“At a time when a record number of oil and gas workers are also going on strike, it's clear this isn't an industry that provides the sustainable, decent jobs we need either."

Friends of the Earth’s head of climate, Jamie Peters, said:

“This is what real climate leadership should look like.

“Stopping new fossil fuel developments and investing in energy efficiency will release us from our reliance on expensive and volatile gas and oil, slash emissions, boost the economy, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, increase energy security and help bring down our energy bills.

“It’s time to build a clean, healthy and prosperous future by saying no to new coal, gas and oil.”