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Trade Union Boss Criticises Labour’s Plan to Ban North Sea Oil and Gas Extraction

Labour’s plan to ban new North Sea oil and gas extraction if they win the next election has been criticised by the general secretary of the GMB trade union, Gary Smith. Speaking at the union’s annual congress, Smith said the industry needed “plans not bans” and that Labour’s policy would create a “cliff edge” for oil and gas extraction from the North Sea. He argued that the UK needed a mix of energy sources, including new nuclear, renewables, hydrogen, and oil and gas, to secure its energy future and transition to net zero.

Smith’s comments echo those he made in an interview with Sky News, in which he criticised Labour’s policy and said that workers in the petrochemical industry would be worried about what the party was saying. He argued that the UK had a choice between producing its own oil and gas and taking responsibility for its carbon emissions, or importing more oil and gas.

Labour’s policy is believed to be the brainchild of shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband, who has argued that the UK needs to ween itself off oil and gas to achieve net zero. The party’s plan includes a ban on new licences for oil and gas exploration, as well as a commitment to phase out existing production.

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The GMB union represents workers in the petrochemical industry, as well as in other sectors such as energy, manufacturing, and transport. It has previously called for a “just transition” to a low-carbon economy, which would protect workers’ jobs and wages as the UK transitions away from fossil fuels.

Smith’s criticism of Labour’s policy comes as the UK prepares to host the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year. The summit will bring together world leaders to discuss how to tackle climate change and achieve net zero. The UK has set a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050, and has committed to cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

Labour’s policy has been welcomed by environmental campaigners, who argue that it is necessary to tackle climate change and protect the planet. However, it has also been criticised by some in the industry, who argue that it would lead to job losses and economic damage.

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The debate over the future of the North Sea oil and gas industry is likely to continue in the run-up to the next election, as parties set out their plans for achieving net zero and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The GMB union and other trade unions are likely to play an important role in shaping these debates, as they represent workers in key sectors of the economy.

For now, the focus will be on the COP26 summit, which is seen as a crucial moment in the fight against climate change. The summit will be an opportunity for world leaders to come together and agree on a plan to transition to a low-carbon economy, and to take action to protect the planet for future generations. As the host nation, the UK will be under scrutiny to demonstrate its commitment to tackling climate change and achieving net zero.

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