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Sturgeon: ‘wrong to continue drilling for oil and gas’

Nicola Sturgeon: ‘we must seek fast transition’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it would be “fundamentally wrong” to continue exploring for oil and gas in the face of the climate crisis.

She told an audience in Glasgow that the switch to clean energy should happen “as fast as possible, but acknowledged that it would not be sensible or prudent to suddenly pull the plug on the oil and gas industry.

“Tens of thousands of jobs are dependent – currently – on oil and gas production,” she told students at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre. “Those jobs and the people in them matter. And, of course, much of our energy use is still catered for by oil and gas.”

However, she added that “for countries like ours, with significant remaining reserves of oil and gas, it is tempting to tell ourselves that for both economic and energy reasons, we must keep exploring for and extracting oil and gas until the last possible moment. That, in my view, would be fundamentally wrong.

“It’s an approach that cannot be justified in the face of the climate emergency, but it can’t be justified economically either.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “Instead, 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.

“I​n 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.​”​

She repeated her comments earlier in the summer that UK Government plans to approve a new drilling permit at the Cambo oil field, west of Shetland, “must be reassessed” in light of the climate emergency, but did not condemn the project outright.

The First Minister admitted the Scottish Government had fallen short on its past three annual environmental milestones, but pointed to a report from the UK Committee on Climate Change, which said last year that Scotland had decarbonised more quickly than any G20 nation.

The Scottish Government will this week set new targets on cutting emissions as the country welcomes the world to the climate change summit.

Ms Surgeon promised new plans to decarbonise public sector buildings, promote home upgrades, and make bus travel cleaner and more accessible.

The government will also set out its intention to increase Scotland’s onshore wind capacity.

A new Energy Strategy will be published next year, which will state that unlimited extraction of fossil fuels, or maximum economic recovery in UK policy terms, was “not consistent” with climate obligations.

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