Scottish Government criticised for not joining alliance to end oil and gas
The Scottish Government has been slammed for not signing up to a new alliance seeking to phase out fossil fuel production.
But the First Minister said the government had not refused to join and was "in active discussions" about membership.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance was launched at COP26 on Thursday, led by the governments of Denmark and Costa Rica.
Climate group Friends of the Earth Scotland said the government needed to match its rhetoric with action.
Director Richard Dixon said: “Nicola Sturgeon is keen to use the language of climate justice and be photographed with Greta Thunberg but at some point her fine rhetoric has to translate into a commitment to stopping the oil and gas production that is driving the climate crisis.
“Refusing to join the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance is a failure to follow through on her government’s recent change of position to no longer support unlimited oil and gas extraction.
Sturgeon told PA said the government had not ruled out joining and was currently considering the different categories of membership.
She said: "I’ve discussed possible membership of Scotland with Danish ministers directly. I would expect us, over the next period, to associate ourselves in one of those categories of membership."
She said a move away from oil and gas was "not the easiest message" for Scotland, adding it must be done "in a way that doesn’t simply increase our dependence on imported oil and gas and, crucially, doesn’t leave the 100,000 people currently working in oil and gas on the economic scrapheap.”
The First Minister has previously called for current oil and gas licenses – including that of the controversial Cambo oilfield – to be reviewed in light of climate commitments but has stopped short of opposing new developments.
The Scottish Greens – who are part of the government following a deal between the two parties earlier this year – said they hoped Scotland would join the alliance shortly.
The cooperation agreement between the SNP and Greens said the two “do not entirely agree on the role of the oil and gas sector” but added: “We cannot ignore the concern that unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is simply incompatible with protecting the planet.”
Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “I have raised the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance with ministers so I am glad Scotland is in discussions to be part of this progressive alliance which is only going to grow over time. It’s a shame we are not signed up on day one, but I will continue to push ministers to be part of this critical initiative.
“Determining how much fossil fuels Scotland needs and how much we can afford to burn under the Paris Agreement should provide a starting point to draw a line under future oil and gas development in Scotland.”
Any member of the alliance must sign up to its declaration, which commits to working to “limit oil and gas production and extraction, and plan for a just, equitable and managed phase-out of existing oil and gas production”.
The founding core members – who must commit to ending new concessions, licensing or leasing rounds for fossil fuel production and exploration – are Wales, Ireland, Sweden, France, Greenland and the Quebec region of Canada.
Other membership options are as an associate member or a 'friend of' the alliance.
The UK government has said it has “no plans to join the alliance”.