Activists stage Rosebank oilfield protest outside offices of Labour frontbench

Activists stage Rosebank oilfield protest outside offices of Labour frontbench

Party urged to commit to revoking licence for site in North Sea and back comprehensive Green New Deal

Young climate activists staged sit-down protests outside the offices of every member of Labour’s shadow cabinet on Friday, calling on the party to take a tougher line on the proposed new Rosebank oilfield and back a comprehensive Green New Deal.

This week the UK’s biggest untapped oilfield was given the go-ahead despite widespread opposition from scientists, poverty campaigners and climate and energy experts.

Labour opposes development in the North Sea, which has the potential to produce 500m barrels of oil, the burning of which would emit as much carbon dioxide as running 56 coal-fired power stations for a year.

But Keir Starmer said this week that the party would not reverse the decision to grant it a licence if it wins the next election. Starmer said: “We will accept the baseline that we inherit from the government if we win that election … in order to ensure we have the stability that we desperately need in our economy.”

Joe Hesmondhalgh, 24, a farm worker and volunteer at Green New Deal Rising who had been protesting outside shadow cabinet offices, said Labour must go further.

“This government’s approval of the Rosebank oil and gas field condemns young people like me to an unliveable future. If the Labour party truly wants to represent us, they must definitely oppose Rishi Sunak’s climate extremism and commit to revoking Rosebank’s licence and delivering a transformative Green New Deal if they win power,” Hesmondhalgh said.

Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary of state for energy security and net zero, said this week that Labour would double down on making the case that tackling the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis could only be done in tandem, despite the intensifying Conservative attack on net zero policies.

He said Labour would argue that seeking green growth was the way to bring down household bills and secure the future of the UK economy. He said the party believed that Rishi Sunak’s U-turns on key net zero policies revealed a weakness in his strategy, a lack of vision for future economic growth, and would add to the cost of living for people on low incomes.

As well as committing to revoke Rosebank, Green New Deal Rising campaigners want the party to go further at its upcoming conference in Liverpool, promising to expand public ownership of key utilities, introduce a green jobs guarantee, create a national nature service and use wealth taxes and taxes on fossil fuel companies and big corporations to pay for the increased investment in the UK and to provide finance for other countries to adapt to and mitigate climate impacts.

Hannah Martin, a co-director of Green New Deal Rising, said: “Approving the Rosebank oil and gas field is just this government’s latest act of climate destruction and Labour must commit to revoking that licence. Half-measures will not tackle the climate and cost of living crisis that we face. It is time for Keir Starmer to step up and commit to a Green New Deal to meet the big challenges of our time.”

The youth climate group has held nearly 100 sit-down protests outside the offices of Labour MPs in recent months and vowed to continue to put pressure on the party.

Martin said: “The upcoming Labourparty conference is a perfect moment for Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves to announce policies that will kick off the decade of the Green New Deal. Instead of backing themselves into a corner with overly restrictive fiscal rules, the Labour party should commit to taxing the wealth of the richest as well as polluting companies to fund the investment needed to tackle the climate crisis and cost of living crisis at the same time.”

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