Labour leader Keir Starmer has winning U.K. election strategy: Ban all new North Sea oil and gas developments

(Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

Hey! That sounds like a plan! If you’re going Green, go with gusto or don’t go at all.

Darned if this guy isn’t a British version of Sir John Kerry of Lurch, and, oh – lucky them.

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Sir Keir Starmer will announce plans to block all new North Sea oil and gas developments and limit borrowing to green investment only as part of a radical blueprint to make Britain a “clean energy superpower”.

The Labour leader is expected to set out his net zero energy policy when he launches his latest “national mission” in Scotland next month. It will include a pledge to ban all new North Sea oil and gas licences, signalling a seismic shift in decades of UK energy policy.

It will be one of Starmer’s five key pledges to the electorate and opens up a clear dividing line with the Conservative Party over a critical issue facing the UK as next year’s general election approaches. Rishi Sunak has backed further oil and gas exploration in the country’s energy security strategy.

Starmer will also announce that a Labour government would only borrow to invest in green enterprises, another dramatic departure from policies enacted by successive UK governments. The Labour source added: “We’ll set out our fiscal plans in full at the election, showing how we will invest in jobs and industries of the future while meeting our fiscal rules.”

It sure sounds as if this fellow is a “believer” and wants to make a clear mark of delineation between him and the Conservative, sitting prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

Sunak was a believer to a degree, but the reality of the situation has pushed him to pragmatism as far as green schemes go. In mid-March I posted about how the Sunak government, much to the chagrin of the renewables fanatics, had declared that nuclear was “environmentally sustainable.” What that classification did was open the nuclear industry to both fast tracking of reactor development, government subsidies, etc. all of which were met with howls of outrage from the usual suspects.

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…In the culmination of an effort and advocacy begun by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.K. chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced yesterday that nuclear energy was being reclassified as “environmentally sustainable” in Britain. That’s not just semantics, It opens nuclear up to all the financing, incentives and opportunities available to any of the so-called Green/renewable energy strategies they’ve been pursuing for the past decade or so. It’s basically the government’s official blessing to go forth and try to multiply.

Now, Green dreamer that Starmer is, he is making the appropriate noises about keeping Sunak’s nuclear on track. Reality and the British public are forcing certain position shifts, even as he catches it from his climate fanatic supporters for the stance.

I’m not sure that it’s going to be enough to smooth over the ruffled feathers of the British unions and even some of his Labour mates, who want him to just calm down…and maybe keep his mouth shut for a while. They’re calling him “naïve.”

Sir Keir Starmer was facing a mounting revolt over his multi-billion-pound net zero plans.

Industry leaders, union allies and even the Labour leader’s own MPs spoke out against his proposal to ban new North Sea oil projects, and borrow £28 billion a year for a ‘Green Prosperity Plan’.

They said it risked scuppering the economy and haemorrhaging skilled jobs. The GMB, one of Labour’s biggest union backers, warned the party against its ‘naive’ plans to limit oil and gas production, which have been hailed by eco-zealots Just Stop Oil.

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His climate allies are foaming-at-the-mouth insisting he stay the course on his promises, but when the unions and energy companies start talking the numbers in public, it makes it very difficult for him not to wobble.

…But the Labour leader is facing growing unease over the cost and impact of the plans. GMB general secretary Gary Smith told Sky News: ‘Their policies are going to create a cliff edge with oil and gas extraction from the North Sea.’

It came after Sharon Graham, of the Unite union, which represents oil rig workers, warned that such a move by Labour could have the same impact as the closure of coal mines in the 1980s.

She said: ‘Labour must now be very clear that they will not let workers pay the price for the transition to renewable energy.’

Offshore Energies UK, which represents major oil companies, said Labour’s plan to block all new developments in North Sea could lead to 45,000 job losses and a 60 per cent drop in domestic production. Chief executive David Whitehouse told The Daily Telegraph: ‘If this policy is enacted, we will become increasingly reliant on imported energy.

‘That would have a number of impacts. It would undermine the UK energy security, it would undermine those 200,000 jobs that we see across the country, it would make the country poorer.’

Much like the farmer’s party in the Netherlands and the recent outlying victories of the conservatives in Germany, Labour leaders in the rural areas and Scotland are sounding the alarm at the wild-eyed Net-Zero plans.

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…Labour MPs say the party’s focus on net zero could harm their electoral chances in parts of the country.

A shadow cabinet minister said: ‘Voters care more about jobs than green stuff.

One Labour MP told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It’s all middle class b*****ks. We won’t reach our targets for converting to electric cars and we may end up simply importing fossil fuels from abroad.’

Members of Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s top team are also believed to have raised concerns privately about the impact on jobs in regions where many oil workers live.

It has emerged that green energy pioneer and Just Stop Oil backer Dale Vince donated £1.5million to Labour in the past decade. Sir Keir has always denied that the money has influenced party policy.

It’s kind of interesting, as well, when you look at what’s been happening in the North Sea and the oil and gas industry there. Norway, even as they still produce fossil fuels offshore, is losing big rigs due to their emphasis on Green energy and the uncertainty of the business environment. Those rigs are too big and too expensive to sit idle in the North Sea when they can be moved elsewhere and utilized. So they are being moved and not coming back.

In a like manner, and closer to the British homeland, the Irish have so constricted their offshore drilling that it is in danger of being irreversibly destroyed.

Ireland is becoming ever more reliant on Britain for gas supplies, with UK imports more than doubling since 2017 to 75% of Irish demand, and set to hit 90%, a report from Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) will say.

By 2030 the Republic of Ireland could be 90% reliant on gas pumped from the UK via pipelines running under the Irish Sea from Scotland. Details will be contained in OEUK’s Business Outlook Report 2023, due out on March 28. Publication of the report is a key annual event, providing in-depth analysis of the UK’s energy security, energy supplies and progress on emissions reduction, for policymakers and other stakeholders, as well as the industry itself.

…There are three gas pipelines running from Scotland under the Irish Sea. One takes gas to Northern Ireland while the others feed into the Irish Republic. See this link for a map. See this link for the Irish government’s supporting data.

Natural gas meets over 30% of the Irish Republic’s energy needs, heating and powering 700,000 homes and businesses and generating over 50% of its electricity. {This is similar to the UK where gas heats around 23 million homes and provides 42% of the nation’s electricity.] Demand for both gas and electricity is increasing – partly because of Ireland’s growing number of data centres which are predicted to consume 23% of all the Irish republic’s electricity by 2030. (See the Irish government’s data at this link).

However, following Ireland’s depletion of its existing gas fields, a decision not to open any more, and a lack of low-carbon replacements, the nation is becoming increasingly dependent on imports. It’s de facto ban on further oil and gas exploration was formalised in 2021 with the Irish government saying then that the move was part of a wider effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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They have hung themselves out to dry, and are – for now – dependent on imports from the U.K. What happens if Starmer wins an election and shuts everything down? The U.K. was in an energy hurt locker this winter – what do the Irish do?

They should be terrified and they did it to themselves.

For all Starmer, his big money wind industry backers (no shocker there), and rabid climate change supporters rave about it, the wind does not always blow in England…

…and when it doesn’t, it sure wouldn’t fit through any pipeline going to Ireland.

Talk about biting your frozen nose off to spite your face.

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David Strom 1:20 PM | July 18, 2024
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