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Energy / Unlimited recovery of oil and gas ‘not consistent with climate obligations’, first minister says

The Clair Ridge platform west of Shetland. Photo: BP

FIRST minister Nicola Sturgeon has reiterated the Scottish Government’s stance that it will no longer support the “unlimited recovery” of hydrocarbons including oil and gas.

In a climate speech delivered at the University of Strathclyde today (Monday) head of the upcoming COP26 conference, Sturgeon said the government will publish a new energy strategy next year to support the transition to net zero.

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She said the unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is “not consistent with our climate obligations”. It is the UK Government, however, which regulates the oil and gas industry.

“Our focus will be on achieving the fastest possible just transition for the oil and gas sector – one that delivers jobs and economic benefit, ensures our energy security, and meets our climate obligations,” Sturgeon said.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photo: SNP

“Absolutely central to our work will be protecting and supporting those who currently work in oil and gas.

“As part of the new strategy, we are developing a Just Transition plan for the energy sector, with a particular focus on the north east of Scotland and already backed by £500 million.

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“In many areas – offshore wind and green hydrogen are good examples of this – the skills that oil and gas workers currently already have are hugely valuable and eminently transferable.”

Minister for zero carbon housing Patrick Harvie said: “Global inaction on the climate emergency must not be allowed to continue.

“Even though the most optimistic outcome of COP26 would mean actions are being taken which could, if not should, have been taken years ago, we can still limit the harm of our past and present environmental destruction if we commit ourselves to immediate action on the scale that’s needed.”

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Climate campaign group Friends of the Earth welcomed the government’s stance on oil and gas extraction.

Climate and energy campaigner Caroline Rance said: “The first minister said that Scotland must lead with actions not words, so this welcome change of heart must be followed with a change of policy that can truly take Scotland beyond oil and gas.”

Shetland, of course, plays host to Sullom Voe Terminal, where oil is brought ashore via pipeline, as well as the nearby Shetland Gas Plant.

However the ORION clean energy project aims to transform Shetland into a “green energy island” involving hydrogen production and wind power.

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