Rishi Sunak’s government has been branded the “political wing of the fossil fuel industry” after holding dozens of lobbying meetings with oil and gas giants.

The Prime Minister is due to meet fossil fuel bosses on Wednesday, after announcing 100 new North Sea oil and gas licences have been approved as part of his strategy to “max out” the singe-use polluting fuel.

The strategy has been criticised by environmental campaigners who have pointed to persistent warnings from the UN and scientists that extracting more fossil fuels will exacerbate the climate crisis.

Read more: Rishi Sunak: 'Max out' North Sea oil and gas to solve climate crisis

Mr Sunak has been criticised from within his own party, with former UK Government net zero review chairman and current Tory MP, Chris Skidmore, warning it was “the wrong decision at precisely the wrong time”.

He added: “It is on the wrong side of a future economy that will be founded on renewable and clean industries and not fossil fuels.

“It is on the wrong side of modern voters, who will vote with their feet at the next general election for parties that protect, and not threaten, our environment.”

Analysis by Global Witness has revealed that between January and March of this year, Mr Sunak and climate and his energy ministers met with fossil fuel companies 54 times, on average more than once every two days.

Read more: Analysis: Has something changed in the water since COP26?

The meetings amounts to around 20% of all lobbying meetings they held in that period, according to the analysis Last year, the Conservative Party and its MPs registered £3.5 million in donations from climate sceptics, fossil fuel interests, and high pollution industries.

Alice Harrison, fossil fuels campaign leader at Global Witness, said: “The Conservative party is the political wing of the fossil fuel industry.

Read more: Revealed: SNP ministers who have met with oil giant behind Rosebank

“Rishi Sunak set off in his private jet to do the industry’s dirty work in Scotland on Monday, and has invited them all for tea at Downing Street on Wednesday.

“The Prime Minister’s decision to double down on expensive, dirty and unreliable North Sea oil, most of which will be exported, serves no one but big oil executives.''

It comes as the SNP calls of the UK Government to match just transition funding put forward by the Scottish Government.

SNP Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, said: “If Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are serious about a green renewable future, then matching the Scottish Government’s £500 million just transition Fund is imperative.

“The SNP Scottish Government has shown its ambition by committing £500 million to a just transition Fund – but this has to be matched by Westminster.”

Read more: SNP climate secretary attacks Tories and Labour over net zero plans

He added: “Successive UK governments have exploited Scotland’s vast energy resources for decades now to bolster UK finances. They must now take responsibility and work with the Scottish Government to unlock Scotland’s enormous renewable energy potential.

“From the US to the EU, countries across the world are pouring money into the green energy gold rush, but with the UK government moving at a snail’s pace, Scotland risks being left behind.”

On Monday, Mr Sunak defended his decision to open up the North Sea to more drilling for oil and gas.

He said that he wanted to “max out the opportunities that we have here in the North Sea”, claiming the strategy was “good for our energy security”, good for jobs and “also good for the climate because the alternative is shipping energy here from halfway around the world with three or four times a carbon emission”.

The PM added: “So any which way you look at it the right thing to do is to invest and to back our North Sea.”