Sturgeon’s green transition challenged as Tories warn SNP ‘turned back’ on key industry

Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland ‘must resist' Westminster control

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The Scottish Government has committed to fighting climate change by reaching net-zero emissions by 2045 at the latest, and that means replacing key energy sources with greener alternatives. Onshore wind already delivers about 70 percent capacity, with offshore wind and hydroelectric power plugging the remaining gap. However, questions remain about the future of Scotland’s fossil fuel industries, in particular gas and oil, which are seen as cornerstones of the Scottish economy.

Scotland has been steadily phasing out the burning of fossil fuels, with the country’s last coal plant, Longannet, closing five years ago.

And in 2019, the Scottish Government said the future of oil and gas will be “conditional on the sector’s actions to help ensure a sustainable energy transition”.

Scottish Conservatives have now challenged Nicola Sturgeon’s Government over the green transition, warning against unnecessary cutbacks to the sector.

The gas and oil industries are estimated to be worth a staggering £18billion to the north-east economy.

He said: “It cannot be sensible to cut our own resources – it’s Scotland’s oil after all – and become increasingly dependent on countries like Qatar.”

The comments followed a failed vote in Holyrood for the Scottish Government to back new oil and gas projects.

Instead, an amended motion was passed by 68 to 55 votes to “reassess all existing licenses”.

The move was harshly criticised by the Tories.

Douglas Lumsden, Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, said: “What we see from the SNP is more deflect, dither and delay.

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“The cabinet secretary is sitting on what must be an uncomfortable fence trying to please everyone but actually pleasing no-one.

“The SNP motion before us is to appease the Greens and nothing else, it sells out Scotland and it sells out Aberdeen.

“It will please China and Russia who will benefit no end.”

According to the MSP, the Cambo oil field would provide Scotland with at least 1,000 jobs and £1billion worth of investment in the UK economy over the next five years.

Earlier this summer, Ms Sturgeon urged Westminster to reassess the oil field over the “severity of the climate emergency”.

In a letter penned to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Scottish First Minister warned licenses issued in the past for projects like Cambo did not take into account the state of climate change.

Michael Matheson, the SNP’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Secretary, has said oil and gas will play a key role in Scotland’s transition to green energy.

He said: “We believe that it will help Scotland to become a world leader in emerging technologies such as hydrogen technology, carbon capture and utilisation and storage and in offshore wind.

“Our transition to net zero must be made in a way that is just for the workers, which is key, but also for the sector and our energy needs.”

Mark Ruskell, an MSP with the Scottish Greens, said his party has reached an agreement with the SNP to address the future of oil and gas.

The Scottish Green party and SNP struck a deal earlier this summer to work together in government on the country’s climate agenda and the question of Scottish independence.

The Cambo oil field has been opposed by Scottish Labour, Greens and the Liberal Democrats.

Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s spokeswoman for net-zero, said: “Without immediate action to reduce emissions, the consequences will include rising sea levels, the extinction of vulnerable species, and a higher frequency of natural disasters.

“Pushing ahead with Cambo would be a betrayal of future generations.”

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