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by Tom Freeman
28 March 2019
Scottish Parliament rejects call to treat climate change as an emergency

Climate strike outside Scottish Parliament - Tom Freeman/Holyrood

Scottish Parliament rejects call to treat climate change as an emergency

MSPs have voted down a call for the urgency of climate change to addressed by stopping the extraction of fossil fuels.

All other parties rejected a Scottish Green motion to recognise a climate emergency by ceasing investment in oil and gas and banning fracking.

The SNP, Labour and the Scottish Conservatives argued too many jobs and livelihoods depend on the oil and gas industry in Scotland.

There were six votes for and 111 votes against.

Last year a landmark report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world is on course to experience 3C warming by 2030, leading to flooding, forest fires, cyclones and other events which can cause huge displacement of people and widespread poverty.

The Scottish Government has introduced legislation to set tough targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but campaigners such as striking schoolchildren argue they are not being backed up with urgent action.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment Mairi Gougeon said “no one” would dispute “the urgency of the situation”.

“Suddenly ending production would have an absolutely massive impact on communities and jobs, especially in the north-east of Scotland and in constituencies such as mine,” she said.

Scottish Conservative Peter Chapman said: “Although I recognise that our energy needs must adapt, we cannot simply ignore an industry that is vital to our energy security. It is forecast that at least two thirds of the United Kingdom’s primary energy needs will be met by oil and gas until at least 2035.”

Labour’s Clare Baker said: “Scotland has benefited from offshore oil and gas extraction, but times are changing for the industry. The reserves that we still have are more difficult to locate and extract, meaning less revenue for the return.

“However, as someone who grew up in what became an ex-mining village, I know the impact that industrial change has on communities. That is why we are calling for the just transition commission to be given a greater role in managing the change that we need in our energy policy.”

Following the vote, Scottish Greens Environment and Climate Spokesperson Mark Ruskell said:

“The IPCC tell us we have just over ten years to act, but the SNP, Tories, Labour and Lib Dems are more concerned about propping up the unsustainable fossil fuel industry than taking the bold, urgent action that is required.

“The evidence is clear; we need to take ambitious action to cut emissions, we need a just transition to realise the green jobs bonanza that can be delivered with our renewables potential, and we need to accept that using every last bit of fossil fuel reserves is simply incompatible with dealing with the climate emergency.

“The obvious starting point is a watertight ban on fracking. It would be profoundly irresponsible to open up new fossil fuel frontiers, yet the Scottish Government continues to refuse to take the action that is required.”

“Today’s debate shows that only the Scottish Greens are willing to take the necessary steps to tackle the climate emergency.”

Elsewhere MSPs backed another Green motion calling for Article 50 to be revoked by 89 votes to 28 with one abstention – SNP Brexiteer Alex Neil.

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