SNP MP's call for new oil & gas extraction to fund renewables 'stimulus' opposed by Greens

Scottish Greens rebuke SNP MP Douglas Chapman’s call for oil and gas revenues to be utilised in financing transition to a zero carbon economy

  • SNP MP demands debate in the House of Commons over how oil and gas revenues could be delivered to the Scottish Exchequer to fund green technology development
  • Scottish Greens’ environment and climate spokesperson argues that the climate emergency requires a faster transition from oil and gas to renewables
  • Friends of the Earth Scotland warns that “opening new fields would nearly quadruple the emissions from UK oil and gas”
  • Ruskell’s intervention follows Greenpeace protest on BP oil rig in the Cromarty Firth

A GREEN NEW DEAL for Scotland cannot be delivered by an SNP government “that is unprepared to plan now for the end of oil and gas,” Green MSP Mark Ruskell has argued.

Ruskell’s comments come in response to remarks from SNP MP Douglas Chapman, who has urged the UK Government to use oil and gas revenues to speed the transition to a zero carbon economy.

Following oil giant Hurricane Energy’s recent announcement that drilling off the west coast of Shetland will produce 20,000 barrels a day, Chapman challenged the newly elected Leader of the House Mel Stride MP to allocate time for the debate on how revenues from the oil and gas sector can be given to the Scottish Exchequer in order to fund the development of green technologies.

Chapman said: “Scotland’s oil and gas may not last for ever, but the announcement of a new 20,000 barrels a day field could provide the stimulus to allow Scotland to move to a greener future.

“If the revenues from this field and other Scottish fields were to be allocated to the Scottish Exchequer instead of HM Treasury, then that could form the basis for a transition fund to help Scotland accelerate progress in moving to a zero carbon fuel future.”

“Oil and gas rich countries like Norway are already making big steps in transitioning to a greener future. Scotland should be able to take advantage of the same opportunity.” SNP MP Douglas Chapman

Chapman continued: “Scotland is currently leading the way in the UK on renewable energy. The Tories should stop putting money down the Treasury drain and allow Scotland to invest the revenues wisely in the future of green technology to, not only secure the future of our energy sector, but also to do our bit to protect the planet and meet our international climate change obligations. Oil and gas rich countries like Norway are already making big steps in transitioning to a greener future. Scotland should be able to take advantage of the same opportunity.”

Chapman claimed that the Leader of the House had “blatantly” ignored his question by responding that it was a matter for Scottish Questions, describing his reply as “just another example of the Tories sweeping the idea of green technology under the carpet.”

However, Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Greens’ environment and climate spokesperson, was critical of both the UK and Scottish governments in response to Chapman’s remarks, telling CommonSpace: “It’s extremely frustrating that decades of oil wealth has been squandered by Westminster governments. But in a climate emergency we need to be transitioning faster than ever from oil and gas rather than extracting every last drop.”

“In a climate emergency we need to be transitioning faster than ever from oil and gas rather than extracting every last drop.” Green MSP Mark Ruskell

“A Green New Deal can create hundreds of thousands of jobs, but it can’t come from an SNP  government that is unprepared to plan now for the end of oil and gas in the decades to come. ”

Ruskell’s comments echoed the Friends of the Earth Scotland report ‘Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs and Managing the Phase-Out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction’, released in May, which claimed that, “given the right policies, clean industries could create more than three jobs for every North Sea oil job at risk, which can enable an ‘equivalent job guarantee’ for every oil worker.”

The report also notes that oil and gas extraction is currently growing in the UK, and that the UK and Scottish Governments are currently pursuing policies to maximise extraction by continuing to support exploration and new oil extraction infrastructure, exemplified by new projects such as BP’s Clair Ridge coming on stream, and new discoveries like Total’s Glendronach being pursued.

Friends of the Earth Scotland found that the UK’s 5.7 billion barrels of oil and gas in already-operating fields “will exceed the UK’s share in relation to the Paris climate goals - whereas industry and government aim to extract 20 billion barrels.”

READ MORE: GMB attack trade union backed climate change Just Transition committee

This report further argued that “opening new fields would nearly quadruple the emissions from UK oil and gas”, and that “if all countries took the same approach as the UK – of phasing out coal power while maximising oil and gas extraction – resulting warming would significantly exceed 2°C, moving dangerously beyond the Paris goals… This is because the additional oil and gas emissions far exceed the savings from coal.”

Based on these findings, Friends of the Earth Scotland recommended that the UK should cancel current and future oil and gas licensing rounds, stop issuing permits for new fossil fuel exploration and development, and review whether existing oil and gas facilities should be phased out early through a Just Transition.

Controversy over the future of the UK’s fossil fuel industry saw further developments this week, as Greenpeace activists boarded an oil rig in the Cromarty Firth to protest plans by BP to drill new oil wells in the North Sea, unfurling a banner reading ‘climate emergency’ from the platform on Sunday evening.

In a statement released by Greenpeace, one of the activists said: “Warm words flow from BP on their commitment to tackling climate change.

“Yet this rig, and the 30m barrels it seeks to drill, are a sure a sign that BP are committed to business as usual, fueling a climate emergency that threatens millions of lives and the future of the living world.”

Picture courtesy of joiseyshowaa

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