Dale Vince: Just Stop Oil donor pulls funding over ‘pointless’ further protests - who is he?

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Dale Vince, who is also a major Labour Party donor, said further disruption would only help “feed the Tories’ culture-war narrative”.

Green energy industrialist and major Labour Party donor Dale Vince has announced he will stop funding Just Stop Oil because any further protests would be “pointless”.

Mr Vince, who is also the founder of Ecotricity, has said continued disruption by the activists would only help “feed the Tories’ culture-war narrative” - as the party has made clear it will drill for oil “come what may”. Therefore, Mr Vince will instead spend the cash on campaigning for Sir Keir Starmer in the run-up to the next general election.

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Writing for the Guardian, the businessman said: “In order to ‘just stop oil’, first we need to just stop the Tories. A vote for anyone other than Labour, or no vote at all, is a vote for another Tory Party government - this time with a mandate to pursue its anti-green crusade”.

He also said he wants to focus his “time, energy, and funding” towards encouraging young people to vote, who he hopes will help elect a “green” government.

Mr Vince has supported Just Stop Oil since its foundation in February 2022, and in the time since has given the environmental group £340,000 to help its campaign against oil drilling in the North Sea. He has always backed the activists’ controversial tactics, but now believes that “no amount of protests” will sway Rishi Sunak’s government.

Dale Vince joins Just Stop Oil activists during a protest by the environmental campaigners in central London. Picture Date: Thursday June 8, 2023. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA WireDale Vince joins Just Stop Oil activists during a protest by the environmental campaigners in central London. Picture Date: Thursday June 8, 2023. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Dale Vince joins Just Stop Oil activists during a protest by the environmental campaigners in central London. Picture Date: Thursday June 8, 2023. Credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire | Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Who is Dale Vince?

Dale Vince, 62, is a businessman, environmental activist, and founder of Ecotricity - the UK’s leading provider of green/renewable energy. He launched the company in 1995, setting up his first wind turbine in 1996.

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In 2022, Mr Vince sold Ecotricity to focus on other projects - including being chairman of semi-professional football club Forest Green Rovers, which was recognised as the world’s first carbon-neutral football club. It also became the world’s first all-vegan football club.

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Mr Vince has argued that his experience creating “a group of green businesses” - which he said together general over £500 million in annual revenue - has taught him “that the green economy is the opportunity of the century”. His net worth was said to be about £107 million in 2022, but reports suggested it would double upon the sale of Ecotricity.

Mr Vince has also been involved in politics, previously donating to the Labour Party, the Green Party, and the Liberal Democrats.

What has he said about Just Stop Oil?

In a statement released late on Friday (6 October), Mr Vince said that while he “firmly believes there should be no new [oil or gas licences], he believes that “recent actions by this government make it clear that no amount of protesting will prevent them from drilling in the North Sea”.

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The green energy industrialist argued that further disruption would therefore be “pointless” - an possibly “counterproductive” - wth the Tories “intent on drilling come what may and will welcome further protest as it feeds their new culture war.”

He slammed Sunak for “demonising” net zero by committing to continued drilling, delaying the end of petrol car sales, and rowing back on energy efficiency measures - and claimed he had committed “an incredible assault on the truth” by offering “fake” announcements on cancelling meat taxes, forced car sharing, and seven bin recycling.

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“We need a change of approach,” Mr Vince continued. “I believe that the only way to stop drilling in the North Sea now – science, logic, and protest having failed - is by choosing a new government at the coming election. Consequently, I’m no longer going to fund protest but will instead switch all of my time, effort, and funding to a new cause.”

This new cause is JustVote24, which he said is “about empowering the younger generation, especially first-time voters, to exercise their right to vote” - and will also reach out across demographics to “the millions of Britons that care about the environment - and want to see more action on the climate crisis.”

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He also argued that the “consensus is clear” on the fact that the world “cannot afford to produce more fossil fuels if we are to avoid the worst of the climate crisis” - and insisted that a green economy would help solve the issue which preoccupies most people’s minds from day-to-day... the cost of living crisis.

On why he supported Just Stop Oil, Mr Vince said he “believes in the right to protest” and the “power of protest to bring change” - and added that he “applauds of the conviction” of the group’s activists “in the face of an increasingly hostile state.”

What are his links to Labour?

Mr Vince’s green energy company Ecotricity has donated more than £1.4 million to Labour since 2015 - a figure which includes both donations to the party itself and individual ones to leader Sir Keir Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner.

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The fact that Mr Vince donates to both Labour and Just Stop Oil has caused some controversy over the years. While there is no indication that Just Stop Oil has funded Labour, Conservatives have called for the party to return donations from Mr Vince, arguing that acceptance legitimises the activist group’s tactics.

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Prime Minister Sunak has also sought to highlight Mr Vince’s support - claiming it showed “eco-zealots” from Just Stop Oil are “writing Keir Starmer’s energy policy”.

Labour has consistently rejected suggestions that Just Stop Oil influences its policies, with Starmer also becoming increasingly critical of the group in recent months - calling its protesters “wrong” and “arrogant”.

Mr Vince also insisted that his decision to stop funding Just Stop Oil had not been influenced by Labour, remarking: “This is completely my own decision”. His choice to direct his cash to Labour comes from a belief that the only way to “just stop oil” is to elect a new government.

Ecotricity also donated £70,000 to the Liberal Democrats in 2015/16, and £30,000 to the Green Party in 2013.

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What has Just Stop Oil said?

Just Stop Oil told the BBC it was grateful to Mr Vince for his “amazing financial and moral support over the past year”. A spokesperson added that civil resistance “really works” - and also hit out at Labour, saying it believed Starmer has “no intention of stopping” the oil and gas projects as it branded the party “moral cowards”.

Labour has pledged to block all new domestic oil and gas developments, but says it will honour any licences in existence at the time of the next election, which is expected towards the end of next year.

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