Dale Vince says attacks on his donations are a ‘mudslinging exercise’

The green energy businessman has denied trying to influence Labour’s policy to stop new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

Danny Halpin
Wednesday 31 May 2023 15:38 BST
Labour donor Dale Vince said he gives money to a variety of groups and political parties (Mike Egerton/PA)
Labour donor Dale Vince said he gives money to a variety of groups and political parties (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

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Eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince has called attacks on his support for Labour a “mudslinging exercise” and a “flimsy stretch of an attempt to find some dirt” on the opposition.

The founder of the Green energy firm Ecotricity has donated about £1.5 million to Labour over the past decade, according to filings to the Electoral Commission.

He has also donated to Just Stop Oil but denied any connection between the two, saying he gives money to “people in the world trying to do something good”.

Speaking to the PA news agency he said: “I’ve donated in the past to the Green Party, the Lib Dems, Greenpeace, I donate to Sea Shepherd; a few weeks ago (it) was (to) a woman’s refuge in Stroud.

“They’re all good causes, they’re all people in the world trying to do something good for other people.

“Just Stop Oil fit that description perfectly.”

Labour has vowed to block any new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, something Just Stop Oil has called for during its disruptive protests.

The International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have said that any new fossil fuel projects will breach the target set in the Paris Agreement to limit the average global temperature to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Mr Vince said it was “sheer madness” to open new oil and gas fields given the Earth’s acceleration towards unsafe levels of global warming, adding: “Keir Starmer has already said he’s going to do this, at Davos, so this isn’t a new story.

“It’s a mudslinging exercise, trying to make a whole lot of fuss about something, trying to create some smoke and pretend there’s a fire.

“It’s fear of the election – the polls are looking pretty bad for the Tories. I think they’re desperate to have something to attack Labour with and this is a really flimsy stretch of an attempt to find some dirt on Labour in terms of funding.

“We’re way off track for 1.5C and opening new gas and oil fields is sheer madness.”

On Twitter, Mr Vince offered to double the donation of anyone who gives money to Just Stop Oil in the next 48 hours because of “right-wing mudslinging” and criticised the Conservatives for playing “naked politics”.

Senior Government ministers have criticised Labour’s policy of blocking new oil and gas and have committed themselves to opening more, arguing that it will reduce the need for imports.

Climate minister Graham Stuart previously claimed it would be more environmentally friendly to build more oil and gas in the North Sea because it will save emissions on shipping it from abroad.

In March, climate reporters from DeSmog said they found the Conservatives had taken £3.5 million from individuals and groups linked to climate denial, fossil fuels and high-pollution industries last year.

They analysed Electoral Commission records which showed the party and its MPs received money from the aviation and construction industries, mining and oil interests as well as individuals linked to the Global Warming Policy Foundation – a think tank opposed to climate action.

Mr Vince said: “Last year, when Russia turned off the gas to Europe, 40% of Europe’s supply went overnight. We didn’t have a shortage, that wasn’t what drove prices up.

“The fastest, cleanest, cheapest way to energy security is green energy made right here, priced right here. So we can permanently lower bills and be completely detached from this global energy market madness.

“There’s real harm being done in the world by people that continue to burn fossil fuels. Last year in Europe alone, 40,000 people died due to excess heat.

“And I think we’re seeing a lot of fuss right now about some disruption caused by a band of passionate concerned people that want to see more done and less bad stuff done.

“There’s a lot of stuff in the media about the disruption they cause to bring attention to the issue. I think it’s out of all proportion.

“People have lost their lives or their homes in the climate crisis and that’s happening right now. Not just in some other part of the world, it’s happening in Britain, it’s happening in Europe.”

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