Energy policy and legislation has dominated the political agenda at Holyrood and Westminster since parliamentarians returned in January.
At Holyrood, the Scottish Government published a draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, setting out a roadmap to deliver a fair and secure zero-carbon energy system for Scotland.
The draft includes a Just Transition Plan for the energy sector, detailing the support being provided to grow Scotland’s highly skilled energy workforce, increase jobs in energy generation and the supply chain, while enabling communities and businesses, particularly in the North East, to prosper.
The Strategy also sets out recommended actions for the UK Government to take in reserved policy areas, including powers relating to energy security, market mechanisms, network investment and market regulation. Scottish Ministers have invited the UK Government to join an Energy Transition delivery group to drive forward the vision set out in the Strategy.
Newly appointed OEUK CEO Dave Whitehouse met with the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson MSP and the Leader of the SNP at Westminster Stephen Flynn MP to outline the concerns the sector has over the impact of the Strategy.
The Cabinet Secretary attended the UK House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee to answer questions from Members of Parliament on the Strategy and the need for coordination and collaboration across all levels of government.
Following the release of the draft Strategy OEUK will be participating in the consultation process on behalf of its members.
Meanwhile, the UK Government’s Net Zero Review which was overseen by Chris Skidmore MP was published.
One of the Review’s key themes was that ambition is not enough. A headline finding is that targets and promises are one thing, but consumers and businesses need certainty on the policy pathway, especially in this decade. To that end, OEUK echoes calls for detailed, granular plans that can complement the North Sea Transition Deal.
Another key theme is that the UK is not an energy island. Other industrialised nations are also in the “net zero race” and there is no time to lose. The actions we take today will impact the attractiveness of the UK as a green leader.
In the House of Lords at Westminster the rejuvenated Energy Bill continued the detailed Committee stage and at Prime Minister’s Questions the previous week, the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak said:
“…We know that we will have to rely on hydrocarbons for decades to come as we transition to net zero, and consuming oil and gas from the North Sea means less than half the carbon footprint of importing that same oil and gas, so it obviously makes sense to do it here and in the process support tens of thousands of jobs in Scotland. I can reassure him that the Scottish oil and gas industry has this Government’s wholehearted support…”
In response to an oral question on the transition BEIS Minister Nus Ghani MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State concluded:
“The government remains firmly committed to the low-carbon industry across the UK including in Scotland. Our landmark North Sea Transition Deal will support the offshore oil and gas sector including its supply chain for the delivery of low-carbon hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage.”
It is clear that energy policy will continue to be front and centre of Ministerial attention in Scotland and the UK for 2023 and beyond.