Scottish Greens urge move away from fossil fuel economy

Scotland's offshore industry has already suffered greatly due to the falling oil price. Picture: HeMedia

Scotland's offshore industry has already suffered greatly due to the falling oil price. Picture: HeMedia

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The Scottish Greens will urge MSPs to back a move away from an “over-reliance” on fossil fuels in the wake of recent North Sea job losses.

The party will use a debate at Holyrood to argue that economic insecurity resulting from the plummeting oil price demonstrates the scale of employment previously supported by oil and gas extraction “cannot be sustained”.

MSPs Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone will call on the Scottish Government to work with staff, trade unions and the industry to develop a transition plan.

They will say a “managed decline” in North Sea oil and gas extraction could be an opportunity to create new jobs in alternative sectors such as renewables, decommissioning and sustainable forestry.

A transition from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives could create 200,000 new jobs, according to a report commissioned by the party last year.

The Scottish Government said it is committed supporting a transition to a low carbon economy, with an ambition to reduce emissions.

Speaking before the debate, Mr Harvie said: “The devastating job losses in the North Sea should have been the final warning for the Scottish Government and Scotland’s parties to start drawing up plans on how to move away from our over-reliance on fossil fuels.

“Yet, it still looks like no other party but the Scottish Greens is willing to face the facts and start looking ahead.

“Scotland’s trade unions and even the Bank of England have recognised it - building our future on oil and gas is simply not an option. The fossil fuel industry will decline, whether we like it or not.

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“The choice we do have is to invest in in the huge opportunities of the post-carbon economy. As our research has shown, it offers far more secure, high quality employment than will be lost as the fossil fuel age passes.

“Instead of sticking with the status quo in the face of more redundancies and financial instability, we could be planning for a transition and securing the future of our workers, our energy production and our economy.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have a clear policy for a balanced energy mix to provide energy security for the future that balances fossil fuels alongside the growing importance of renewables.

“Renewable sources now supply around half of Scotland’s total electricity needs.

“In all our work, we draw on advice from experts across the sector, including members of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board. This underpins our work towards an over-arching energy strategy for Scotland - setting out what we can do to optimise the benefits of Scotland’s significant energy resources and expertise through to 2030.

“One year ago this month, we created the Energy Jobs Taskforce (EJTF), which continues to co-ordinate action and lay a solid foundation for a truly modernised North Sea oil industry. The EJTF has already helped to support more than 2,500 individuals and 100 employers through the current downturn.”

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