Nicola Sturgeon has described oil and gas as the “most difficult” issue for Scotland to confront, speaking on the opening day of the COP26 climate conference.
On a WWF Climate and Energy panel, the First Minister said the reliance of “tens of thousands of jobs” on the sector was not an excuse to avoid climate action.
She said: “Take oil and gas. All countries have really difficult issues to confront. For a country like Scotland, oil and gas is the most difficult.
“Tens of thousands of jobs (are) dependent on that, but that can’t be an excuse to keep drilling for oil and gas indefinitely because that’s catastrophic for the planet.
“So, instead, it has to mean facing up to that is our biggest challenge and working out how we move away from it as quickly as possible. That’s what we’re trying to do: To create alternative jobs so that we’re not leaving people on the scrapheap.”
Last week, the SNP Scottish Government, which recently entered a political deal with the Scottish Greens at Holyrood, announced it would no longer support “unlimited” extraction of oil and gas from the North Sea and that its focus would be on “achieving the fastest possible just transition for the oil and gas sector.”
The industry currently has an Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) regulatory regime which mandates maximising economic recovery of reserves while also working towards net zero emissions.
Industry argues that domestic production of oil and gas prevents the need for further overseas imports with a higher carbon footprint.
The OGA reports to the UK Government department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy as energy is a reserved matter.
The voices of young people like @GretaThunberg and @vanessa_vash must be heard loudly and clearly at #COP26 – the next few days should not be comfortable for leaders, the responsibility to act must be felt. pic.twitter.com/bHVwUVxmci
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 1, 2021
Ms Sturgeon, who earlier today met with climate activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate, said the COP26 summit should be “bloody uncomfortable” for anyone in power.
She also pointed to various climate promises not being reached, such as recent news that the aim of $100bn per year in climate finance for developing nations will not be raised until 2023.
She added: “If we only face up to the relatively easy things we won’t get anywhere. This has to be a moment that leaders – all of us, whether we’re around that negotiating table or not – are held to account for the reality of what we promise, not for the rhetoric of it.
“What can everybody do? Make life really uncomfortable for any government, any leader that’s not doing enough. At times that will be my government, rightly so. We’ve all got to be pushed much harder, much faster. This summit should not feel comfortable for anybody in a position of leadership and responsibility. It should feel bloody uncomfortable because nobody yet is doing enough and that’s the reality.”