Economic case for coal and gas is crumbling - Lorna Slater

Shell’s withdrawal from the Cambo oil field was a major U-turn and a huge victory for campaigners.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 12:31 pm
Lorna Slater takes on the role of Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, working with the Finance and Economy Secretary and Net Zero Secretary.
Lorna Slater takes on the role of Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, working with the Finance and Economy Secretary and Net Zero Secretary.

But if we are to avoid environmental breakdown and climate catastrophe the transition to a green economy must accelerate and leave no-one behind

The announcement is a testament to the work done by campaign groups, school student strikers and activists over several years. Thousands of people across Scotland and beyond have opposed the development from day one and have been unrelenting in their determination to stop it.

The morning after Shell’s announcement school strikers in Edinburgh marked their 146th Fridays for Future day of action. They know that if we are to have a future then we cannot continue with business as usual.

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As Dylan Hamilton, one of the school strikers, told me “It’s certainly a step in the right direction and something for campaigners to celebrate and build on. We have to phase out oil and gas as soon as possible.”

The UN, the International Energy Agency, and most importantly the science, all tell us the same thing. It is code red for humanity and that we must end new oil and gas extraction immediately. If we don’t then the consequences will be long-lasting, and, for many, they could be devastating.

But climate action is not just about averting the potential catastrophe that is in front of us. It is also about embracing the opportunity to reshape our economy and build a better and fairer country that works for us all.

In Scotland we are leading by example and working to build a greener future. With Greens in government, we are taking a different path.

Over the next five years we will double our on-shore wind capacity, treble spending on active travel infrastructure to boost walking, cycling and wheeling, and ensure record investment in public transport, marine energy and recycling.

The benefits from the renewable revolution should be shared by everyone. That is why it is vital that we invest in alternative renewable energy sources that people can use for their own homes, like heat pumps, and democratise energy by boosting community projects.

By making these changes we will create tens of thousands of new jobs across the country and revitalise communities that have been badly hit by the fallout from the pandemic and the long-term decline of oil and gas jobs.

There are far more changes that we would like to make, but, without independence, they will also need a change in approach from Westminster.

At present we don’t have the power to upgrade our own electricity grid, or to connect our vast renewable resources to Europe and sell our excess zero-carbon energy. We don’t have the same freedom as our European counterparts to invest in the infrastructure and industries of the future.

Scotland has the potential to lead Europe in offshore renewable, we have 25% of the total potential offshore resources. But we cannot go the full way when we have one hand tied behind our back.

The reality is that the economic case for oil and gas is crumbling as quickly as the moral one. Shell’s withdrawal from Cambo only underlines this. But we cannot wait for the industry to change itself. It is vital that all governments act now. There is no time to waste.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity