Nicola Sturgeon's prospective coalition partners urge her to condemn 'obscene' Cambo oilfield plans
The minority SNP government has been told to “finally recognise that business as usual for the oil and gas industry can't go on," by their prospective coalition partners.
The Scottish Greens said the findings of the landmark report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would make it “obscene” for the government to support further expansion of the Cambo oilfield near Shetland.
If approved, it’s thought the site could ultimately produce 170m barrels of oil, which would produce emissions equivalent to 16 coal-fired power plants running for a year.
Environmental campaigners have said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon risks ruining her “climate credibility” unless she unequivocally condemns the plan.
Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "The science is overwhelming: our planet is on fire and without concerted action now we’re headed towards climate catastrophe; with the poorest communities suffering the most.
“All of our lives and futures will be on the line as world leaders gather in Glasgow this November to agree a plan to mitigate the worst impacts.
"Ahead of these crunch talks, the prime minister should stop the proposed Cambo oilfield and the first minister should signal her unequivocal opposition to pulling more and more fossil fuels out of the ground when scientists around the world are screaming at governments to stop.”
Over the weekend, protesters from the Green New Deal Rising asked the first minister if she would oppose the Cambo plans.
Sturgeon replied: “Look, I’m not going to stand here – it’s not an issue for the Scottish Government. We are thinking about all of these things, we are trying to come to the right decision. There’s no doubt we should be moving away.
“So there are hard questions to ask about whether things like that are commensurate and I totally get that. There are tough things for all of us to address and make decisions on.”
Told by the campaigner that she was disappointed the first minister would not commit to opposing the oilfield, Sturgeon said: “You can have a politician that says to you what you want to hear, because you are standing here, or you can have a politician that says I do hear what you say, and I’ve got a lot of sympathy with it but there’s issues as first minister I’ve got to make sure that I properly consider.
“And that’s what I’m choosing to do.”
The IPCC report warns of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and is a “code red for humanity".
However, the findings suggest substantial cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases could stabilise rising temperatures.
Responding to the report, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “This report confirms what the Scottish Greens put front and centre of our campaign: that the time to act is now. With wildfires and floods sweeping the world, for governments to be considering further expansion of fossil fuel extraction is obscene.
“Alok Sharma himself describes this as a ‘catastrophe’ yet his government continues to plough millions into the causes of this crisis, while cutting aid to the countries who are most impacted. It’s a disgusting gap between rhetoric and reality, compounded by the apparent willingness to open a vast new oil field off the coast of Shetland. It's also time for the Scottish Government to finally recognise that business as usual for the oil and gas industry can't go on.
“The stakes could not be higher, and we cannot wait another decade for oil giants to maximise their profits before we act. COP 26 must be the summit where world leaders finally accept their responsibility to secure a future for humanity and make the urgent changes needed for a just transition.”
His comments come as news of a "New Zealand-style" co-operation deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens is being mulled by civil servants, according to leaked emails.
The document, sent to party members at the end of last week, and seen by the PA, reveals that the deal is currently being examined by civil servants and government lawyers.
Late last year, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, signed a cooperation agreement with the Green Party in New Zealand, giving them two ministerial portfolios while not being in an official coalition.