Slater on attack

Greens renew climate call as Shell tops FTSE 100

Lorna Slater will attack oil and gas investment while Shell climbs the FTSE league table

Scottish Greens will today challenge Westminster’s “doubling down’ on oil and gas as energy giant Shell has become the biggest company in Britain.

Delegates to the Green Party conference in Dunfermline will hear renewed calls for tackling the climate crisis amid new evidence of global warming.

Co-leader Lorna Slater, said in a pre-conference statement: “Last week saw flooding across our country, with hundreds of people forced to evacuate their homes. It’s clear to everyone that the climate crisis is deepening, that’s why Scottish Green voices are more vital now than ever before.

“With Scottish Greens in government we have made really important progress, with free bus travel for everyone under 22, the removal of peak rail fares, a ban on permission for new incinerators, record funding for nature restoration and wildlife and walking, wheeling and cycling. 

“The Westminster government has shown a total disregard for our future, and is doubling down on oil and gas at a time when we need a fair and just transition to renewables. If we are to take the climate action that is so vital then Scottish Greens must be at the table.”

However, the climate campaigners are locked in a battle, not only with Westminster, but with investors who have propelled Shell back to the top of Britain’s blue chip companies.

The company is once more the biggest stock in the FTSE 100 by market capitalisation as new CEO Wael Sawan’s focus on hydrocarbon production comes on the back of a surge in the oil price.

Oil and gas advocates and the climate campaigners tend to agree on the need for transition, but not about the timetable.

Analysts at the investment platform AJ Bell noted that oil had already turned higher before the war in Gaza, “as markets began to wrestle with the concept that the renewables transition could take longer than expected or hoped, a global recession failed to materialise and supply remained constrained by war.”

Shell’s goal is to maximise the value of existing assets and generate profits and cash flows which will then fund increased dividends, as well as share buybacks, and investment in low-carbon energy production.

Its rise up the FTSE 100 coincides with two big oil deals showing that fossil fuels firms are ready to roll over. Chevron is paying $53 billion (£43 billion) to buy US rival Hess. The tie-up, unveiled last week, follows Exxon’s $60 billion acquisition of shale driller Pioneer. Opec, the group of oil-producing nations, predicts rising demand for oil until at least 2045. 

After two years with Scottish Greens in government, Ms Slater, has said that the conference is an opportunity to reflect on “the positive impact of the cooperation agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government and to focus on the many opportunities to come”.

Critics have said the party is anti-economic growth and has been responsible for heavily criticised policies such as the rent freeze and the bungled deposit return scheme.

Co-leader Patrick Harvie said the party should take credit for the rent cap “and protections that go far beyond anything being done anywhere else in the UK”.

He said the Greens had introduced the “groundbreaking” Scottish Child Payment and the biggest rollout of the living wage since devolution.

“It’s not been easy, and has been made much harder by a Tory government that has shown a total contempt for Scotland and our Parliament,” he said. “Just think what we could do with the full powers of a normal independent country.”

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