Climate change: Scottish government's failure to oppose Cambo field shows SNP's love affair with oil continues – Ian Murray MP

As a new parent, the climate emergency keeps me up at night like never before.

It is the biggest existential threat that any of us have faced and I fear for our children’s futures.

However, my recent visit to the European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) in Orkney gave me a glimmer of hope that the country has cutting edge innovation and technology to make the UN Cop26 climate summit a global game changer.

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But we need the political will.

Emec has the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, resulting in excess energy that they cannot get back to the mainland. Yet, at the same time, both the UK and Scottish governments are shamefully failing to rule out drilling of the Cambo oil field.

What happened to the Scottish government’s blueprint for a ‘greener’ Scotland?

Renewables are right at the heart of the political debate, and there is an opportunity for Scotland to lead the world in tidal and offshore wind power – including the enormous potential of floating offshore wind.

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Scotland minister defends Cambo oil field, insisting sources like it ‘still requ...
Parts of Leith could be underwater within a lifetime unless politicians like Nicola Sturgeon take climate change seriously (Picture: Fraser Bremner/pool/Getty Images)

The world-beating tidal energy projects being developed at Emec are incredible, and my visit convinced me just how much of a pioneer we can be in tackling climate change.

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But we need action, not words from both governments, in order to harness Scotland’s renewable potential.

From flash floods across the UK and Germany, devastating fires in North America and southern Europe, record-breaking heatwaves, and predictions that Leith could be underwater in our lifetimes, the climate crisis has never been so tangible to people across the globe.

Unfortunately, as the train hurtles towards disaster, our leaders have not even thought about applying the brake. Instead, they keep throwing coal into the train engine to make it speed up.

The next few years are critical if we are going to avoid lasting damage to our planet.

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The SNP’s love affair for oil underpinning the economy of a separate Scotland is well documented, but when we are facing such a catastrophe on the horizon, we need leaders and governments who are willing to step up and take the actions that are needed.

What has the SNP done to address the climate crisis? Ministers have slashed funding for environmental organisations such as National Heritage Scotland, Scottish Water and Scotland’s Rural College and have only delivered large numbers of new green jobs in other countries.

Indeed, the number of low-carbon renewable energy jobs fell in 2019.

We need to focus on the what we do well and that could be a renewable energy revolution. Tens of thousands of jobs could be created in emerging energy technologies.

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The Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow is looming and Emec showcases some of the best of what Scotland has to offer in tackling climate change.

Yet with SNP-Green coalition’s failure to oppose the Cambo oil field, the message from the Scottish government is clear: Scotland is not serious about tackling the climate emergency.

So, let’s help Orkney and Shetland to help us all by funding the interconnectors to get clean energy onto the mainland rather than new oil fields.

Through conversation with my constituents and attending events in Edinburgh ahead of Cop26, I’ve seen people’s desire to tackle this emergency.

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We just need governments in Westminster and Holyrood that share their ambitions.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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