‘Pie in the sky’ to pretend no future for fossil fuels in transition, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak said it is “pie in the sky” to pretend fossil fuels will not be part of the UK’s transition to low carbon sources.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer labelled the Prime Minister a “roadblock” to swifter action to developing renewable sources of energy in the UK.

But Mr Sunak told Sir Keir in the House of Commons: “He talked about oil and gas, again, he needs to live in the real world.

“Oil and gas are going to be a part of our energy mix in the transition for several years ahead and it’s simply pie in the sky to pretend otherwise.

“The independent Committee on Climate Change has even recognised that and the carbon footprint of having homegrown gas is half the footprint of importing it from abroad, so it’s a sensible thing to do.”

Mr Sunak, in his earlier statement to the Commons on his visit to the Cop27 summit in Egypt, said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “abhorrent” war in Ukraine should catalyse efforts to tackle climate change.

He said: “Now, I know that some have feared Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine could distract from global efforts from tackling climate change. But I believe it should catalyse them. Climate security and energy security go hand in hand.

“Putin’s contemptible manipulation of energy prices has only reinforced the importance of ending our dependence on fossil fuels. So, we will make this country a clean energy superpower.

“We will accelerate our transition to renewables which have already grown four-fold as a proportion of our electricity supply over the last decade.”

Sir Keir noted Mr Sunak had told Cop27 of a need to act faster on renewables, adding: “So, why is he the roadblock at home?

“As he was flying to Egypt, his minister was reaffirming the ban on onshore wind – the cheapest, cleanest form of power that we have.

“The Prime Minister also said at Cop27 that he realises the importance of ending our dependence on fossil fuels but he’s inserted a massive oil and gas giveaway when Labour forced him into a windfall tax.

“Taxpayers’ cash handed over for digging up fossil fuels.”

Prime Minister’s Questions
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Rishi Sunak of being ‘a roadblock’ in an exchange in the Commons (House of Commons/PA)

Conservative former prime minister Theresa May said more training and skills will be needed for the UK to take advantage of the switch to green energy.

Mrs May said: “He is absolutely right to talk about the creation of high-skilled, high-wage green jobs as we green our economy, but people need to have the training and skills and education to be able to take on those jobs.

“What are the Government’s plans in relation to education and training for green skills?”

Mr Sunak responded: “I point her to our record investments in apprenticeships in particular, but also to the new lifelong learning entitlement which acknowledges that people will have to retrain at any point during their lives to take advantage of the new economic opportunities that are coming our way.

“I am pleased that we will be rolling out that programme over the coming years.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey accused Mr Sunak of “keeping the dinosaurs on his backbenches happy” by maintaining a ban on onshore wind farms.

Mr Sunak replied: “Offshore wind is the thing we are focusing on along with nuclear and we are now a world leader in offshore wind, and it is providing cheap forms of electricity and energy for households up and down the country, and alongside nuclear that is how we will transition to a cleaner grid.”