Approval of the Rosebank oil and gas field west of Shetland earlier this week has angered climate activists and exacerbated fears some have that the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy will never happen.
It’s true that certain grand plans and pledges from politicians have not yet come to anything and, following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s environment policy U-turn last week, a certain level of eco-anxiety is understandable. But, all around us, there is ample evidence of dedicated people within the energy sector working diligently towards that transition, and putting all of their efforts into helping Scotland and the wider UK go green.
Though some critics argue more oil and gas is unnecessary, the reality is that we are currently heavily reliant on fossil fuels to heat our homes and provide many jobs.
That should not and, we are assured by leaders, will not be the case forever; the transition to renewables has begun and it must continue at pace for the sake of the planet and its future population. It is heartening to see signs that the vast majority, from members of the public to members of the board in the energy industry, seem to agree on that.
But boilers cannot be changed in huge numbers of households across the country with the flick of a switch, nor can new roles in emerging energy areas be created overnight.
The transition to renewables as our main source of fuel is a process that will take research, preparation and, crucially, time. Offshore chiefs say Rosebank is key to giving the industry that time to pivot while also ensuring energy and job security. Ceasing domestic oil and gas production only to buy it elsewhere in order to meet current demand makes little sense.
Energy transition must be carried out responsibly
Rest assured, at The Press and Journal we are keeping a close eye on all climate promises made by PR spokespeople and politicians, and we will not hesitate to hold them to account, just as we have on issues such as Scotland’s ferry fiasco and the A9 and A96 dualling disaster.
The consensus is that a moment will come when oil and gas are no longer the main players keeping Scotland running
The energy transition must be carried out responsibly, delivering a sustainable path forward for many future generations while causing as little damage to the country’s economy as possible. If the process is bodged, the price Scotland, and the north and north-east in particular, may have to pay will be costly.
Thankfully, the brightest minds with the skills required to make this significant change a true success live among us and are already working on it. The consensus is that a moment will come when oil and gas are no longer the main players keeping Scotland running. On that day, the country will celebrate the beginning of a new era; until that day comes, we must be patient.
The Voice of the North is The Press & Journal’s editorial stance on what we think are the most important issues of the week