First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has refused to endorse calls for an end to fossil fuel exploration in the North Sea and instead touted a slower, “just transition”.
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie urged the First Minister to call for an end to new licences to explore for oil in the UK, with most work being done in the north east of Scotland.
Newspaper reports have this week suggested the UK Government is looking at various options to tackle climate change, including ending the issuing of new licences by 2040 or even an immediate pause on new exploration.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Mr Harvie said: “We need to leave fossil fuels in the ground.
“Even Boris Johnson appeared to accept this, reviewing the licences for the oil and gas industry, including the option of giving no more permissions for new exploration.
“Scottish Greens have called for this for years but the First Minister has resisted supporting this vital move to protect our planet.”
Asked if she would support the end of new exploration, Ms Sturgeon said: “I agree with the sentiment of Patrick Harvie’s question.”
But she added: “What we have to make sure we achieve, in the interest of people’s jobs who depend on certain sectors, is a just transition.
“I want to see that transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy and Scotland’s transition in that respect is well under way, but we need to do that in a way that supports people into new employment and doesn’t leave people unemployed and doesn’t substitute our own energy for increased imports which actually add to our carbon footprint.
“There is no disagreement here about what we do, but how we do that matters.
“It matters to the jobs, the livelihoods and the living standards of many people across Scotland, and in this case many people across the north east of Scotland.
“There will be no disagreement between me and Patrick Harvie about the moral obligation on our shoulders to get to net-zero within the timescale that we’ve set out and the hard actions that are required to achieve that, and again that is something that has this Government’s complete focus.”