SNP pressure Tory Government over ‘fastest possible’ move away from oil and gas reliance

THE SNP Government has called on UK ministers to help usher in the “fastest possible managed and just transition away from dependence on oil and gas”.

The UK Government has launched a consultation on its draft plans for a climate compatibility checkpoint for new oil and gas developments.

Six tests have been proposed including ensuring the oil and gas sector as a whole is on track to reduce emissions as promised, and incentivise investment and development of transitional technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen.

Last week, statutory advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), said they would favour a “presumption” against new oil and gas developments and a “tighter limit on production”.

HeraldScotland: Scotland's Future

The CCC has also called for the climate compatibility test to be extended to oil fields that have gained an initial licence but have not begun development, such as the controversial plans for Cambo, near Shetland.

The Scottish Government has now formally responded to the proposals.

Scottish Net Zero and Energy Secretary Michael Matheson, in a letter to UK Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, has warned that “governments cannot continue unlimited extraction of oil and gas”, insisting that they “must instead focus on reducing energy demand and accelerating the deployment of renewable energy”.

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In his letter, Mr Matheson added that there is now a need for the “fastest possible managed and just transition away from dependence on oil and gas”.

He said: “The science is absolutely clear that the global extraction of fossil fuels cannot continue indefinitely if the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is to be achieved.

“In line with UK obligations and aspiration to achieve Net Zero by 2050 and by 2045 in Scotland there must now be the fastest possible managed and just transition away from dependence on oil and gas.”

But the SNP minister has admitted that “the issues surrounding a just transition for the oil and gas sector are complex, difficult and often contentious”.

READ MORE: Why oil and gas production remain key in Scotland’s move to net zero future

He added: “This is especially true when considering the oil and gas workforce, the communities in which they live and work, and the regional economies that have greatly benefited from oil and gas activities and who will be most impacted by the transition to net zero.”

Turning to the climate checkpoint, Mr Matheson said this would be “the minimum step required”.

He added: “It is our clear view that climate compatibility checkpoint should not only apply to new exploration but that any undeveloped licences should also face a compatibility checkpoint or test.

“The consideration of undeveloped licences should also take place ahead of granting of any new licences.”

Scotland has committed to become net zero in 2045, five years ahead of the overall UK pledge of 2050.

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Mr Matheson has warned that the climate checkpoint must “reflect” those differences.

He added: “The Scottish Government is currently undertaking a programme of analysis to better understand the role of Scotland’s energy system in the global transition to net-zero emissions.

“As this work progresses over the course of the coming year, we will stand ready to further engage with UK Government counterparts on the design of the specific tests for the checkpoint.”

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A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK is providing a global exemplar for the shift away from hydrocarbons and no other significant oil and gas producing nation has gone as far as the UK in addressing the role of these fuels in their economy.

“We have received a letter from the Scottish Government regarding the climate compatibility checkpoint and will consider it, along with the other responses, as we develop the checkpoint.”

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