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Holyrood and Westminster reject oil drilling ban

Kraken oil field

Oil fields remain for some time

Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson have refused to sign up to an international alliance to halt new oil and gas drilling, insisting that there needs to be a gradual transition to clean energies.

The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance added six members today during the UN climate conference in Glasgow, but did not get the support of any major fossil fuel producers, including the UK or Scottish governments.

There was criticism of their position from environmental groups, with Ms Sturgeon in particular being accused of double standards after her willingness to pose for selfies with campaigners such as Greta Thunberg.

However, Ms Sturgeon and the Westminster government noted that the alliance was formed by nations with little or no indigenous oil and gas resources.

They include France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden, Wales and the Canadian province Quebec who join the group formed by Denmark and Costa Rica in September.

Danish climate minister Dan Jorgensen told Reuters: “It is our ambition that this will be the beginning of the end of oil and gas,” “We hope that this will inspire others.”


He said he was “in close dialogue” with Scotland in whose waters most of Britain’s oil and gas is concentrated while the UK government is in charge of oil and gas permits.

Other major oil and gas producers that did not sign the alliance were Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Britain has no plans to stop domestic oil and gas production, but is revamping the rules around licensing to reduce emissions associated with upstream production.

“While the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels continues to fall, there will continue to be ongoing but diminishing need for oil and gas over the coming years,” a UK government spokesperson said.

Many developing countries in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America have said they need the revenue from future oil and gas extraction to lift living standards and pay for their eventual transition to cleaner energy sources.

Friends of the Earth said Scotland’s First Minister “was keen to use the language of climate justice and be photographed with Greta Thunberg” but claimed her rhetoric had so far failed to translate into firm commitments to end oil and gas production.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that Scotland was “in a different position” to other devolved administrations such as Wales, which has backed the commitment, because of the number of jobs in Scotland that are tied to the industry.

She said discussions were on-going with the charity about signing up.

She told reporters at COP26: “Friends of the Earth Scotland is a very good campaigning organisation and their job is to push governments in the direction they think governments should go, and they do it well.

“But I’m the First Minister – I’ve got to do more than simply state a position. We have to go through a process of what level we are going to join.

“I don’t disagree with Friends of the Earth on the destination we are trying to get to.

“My job is to get us to that destination in a fair and a just way. That’s where the work of a government differs from the work of an organisation – albeit a highly respected one like Friends of the Earth.”

OGUK, the representative body for the UK offshore oil and gas industry, welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision as one that strengthened Scotland’s energy transition and said it will safeguard the acceleration of essential green technologies as well as Scottish jobs.

OGUK CEO Deirdre Michie said: “The UK’s offshore oil and gas industry is changing – we are in a unique position and are helping aid the energy transition underway. 

“While we still need oil and gas, it is far better we meet our own demand with our own resources rather than importing it, which can be far worse for the environment.

“Putting an arbitrary end to supply and production would damage livelihoods across Scotland – the same communities whose skills will be vital in helping us achieve a low-carbon economy.”

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