SNP rising star Mairi McAllan has been named Scotland’s new energy secretary following a reshuffle brought on by Michael Matheson’s resignation on Thursday.
Ms McAllan, previously cabinet secretary for Net Zero, Transport and Just Transition, takes on the new combined brief of Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy.
Mr Matheson quit his role as health secretary on Thursday morning over ongoing controversy around an £11,000 iPad roaming charges bill while he was on holiday.
That resignation prompted a reshuffle where Neil Gray, who was previously cabinet secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Energy, took the health brief, leaving a gap to be filled for the energy portfolio.
Elsewhere Transport has been made its own cabinet-level portfolio led by Fiona Hyslop.
Who is Mairi McAllan?
Mairi McAllan became MSP for Clydesdale in May 2021.
Weeks later she was named environment minister and became Net Zero secretary in March 2023.
From South Lanarkshire, she studied law at Glasgow University and co-founded the human rights group RebLaw Scotland before working as a trainee lawyer.
After qualifying as a Scots lawyer, she specialised in energy and natural resources in a commercial firm in Glasgow.
What’s Mairi McAllan’s position on energy?
While running for election, Ms McAllan said she would champion “a green recovery where we capture the possibilities of our move to net-zero to creates good, green jobs and a sustainable investment in our communities”.
Mairi McAllan has recently voiced opposition to new oil and gas licences being issued, telling MSPs last month that “we don’t agree that is a viable answer to the energy cost crisis or to the climate crisis that we’re facing”.
She added that the answer to both of those is “the rapid investment and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency”.
Ms McAllan came under fire from the UK Climate Change Committee watchdog in November after the Scottish Government failed to publish its climate change plan by the end of the year as planned.
The CCC said it meant its Scottish Progress Report would have “nothing to review” and described the delay as “very disappointing”.
However Ms McAllan said the move was down to the UK Government altering its policies on the sale of new cars and phasing out of fossil fuel boilers.
Elsewhere, Ms McAllan has voiced “concerns” over the controversial Rosebank oilfield, primarily due to the oil being “for export and therefore cannot contribute to national energy security”.
Operator Equinor has previously pointed out that the oil will contribute to resilience across north-west Europe, as much of the refining capacity sits outwith the UK.
First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “The new, green economy is a massive economic opportunity for Scotland. If we grasp it, we can help the world tackle climate change while delivering well-paid jobs and sustainable growth in Scotland for generations to come.
“That’s why we will now bring these two portfolios together, and Màiri McAllan is the right person to drive it forward.”