Labour: UK is complacent on energy security and must ‘sprint to net zero’

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There is “complacency” from the Government on energy security and a “sprint” to renewable sources is needed, Labour’s shadow business secretary has said.

Jonathan Reynolds said Poland and Bulgaria deserved our “full solidarity” after Russia announced it was cutting gas supplies to the two countries.

The halt of natural gas transfers is the latest escalation of tensions between Russia and the West amid the war in Ukraine.

Russia has suggested it could cease supplying gas to other European customers.

Local government elections
Anas Sarwar said his party had a detailed plan to help families with the cost of living (Jane Barlow/PA)

On Wednesday, Mr Reynolds spoke to people at a cafe in Rosyth, Fife, as he campaigned with Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, ahead of the local elections.

He said Labour’s policy of a windfall tax on oil and gas companies would help households with their energy bills.

Discussing the European gas supply situation, he told the PA news agency: “We should show full solidarity with our European friends and allies who have been facing this kind of aggression from Russia.

“And we’ve known that the Russians use energy policy as a tool of that aggression.

“What we need to see is, first of all, a shake-up of some of the complacency that we see from the Conservative Government.”

He continued: “For us, the only way to respond to the pressures, whether that’s the volatility of the price of gas in terms of fossil fuels, or the security aspect of that, is to do that sprint to net zero, to neutral sources of energy.”

Mr Reynolds said the Government had not done enough to invest in energy efficiency or clean sources such as heat pumps.

He said: “I feel there’s a complacency that sits at the heart of that, and it leaves us far too exposed to this kind of aggression than otherwise we should be.”

It would be a mistake to respond to the current crisis by extracting more fossil fuels from the North Sea beyond what is essential, he said.

Mr Sarwar said his party had a “costed and detailed plan” to help households with the cost of living.

He said: “The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the actions of Russia have brought into much sharper focus the need for us to have our own independent energy security here in the UK.

“But we shouldn’t also pretend that climate change has gone away and that the planet is still not at risk.”

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