SCOTLAND should nationalise its oil industry to break its dependence on “distant multinationals and neoliberal forces”, and cut down on drilling, according to a report commissioned by the Scottish Greens.
The report, written by oil industry critic Mika Minio-Paluello, says an economy focused on green energy could create over 40,000 more jobs than the current fossil fuel extraction industry.
It proposes a comprehensive change to UK economic policy away from tax cuts for foreign oil companies, which are designed to boost oil production, towards empowering local communities to create an economy based on publicly-owned renewable energy.
It states: “The North Sea oil industry says jobs are threatened by falling oil prices, but a better future for Scotland is possible.
“More and better jobs. A safer and more stable economy. Stronger communities. A long-term future as an energy exporter. Moving from energy colonialism to energy democracy.
“This better future won’t come with tax cuts for oil corporations and trying to extract every last barrel.
“It means changing direction towards a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. This will require a wholescale change of UK economic policy away from austerity and toward investment in the new economy.
“Sustainable sectors in the new economy can employ significantly more people than currently work in fossil fuel industries.”
The new economy could employ 200,000 people by 2020 in contrast to the 156,000 currently employed in fossil fuel extraction, according to the report.
Proposed new jobs include electrical engineers, geologists, biochemists, foresters, pipefitters, bus drivers, organic waste collectors, crane operators, welders, helicopter pilots, designers, manufacturing engineers, construction workers, environmental impact assessors, surveyors, engineering analysis, offshore maintenance, seafarers and shipbuilders.
“The transformation we are proposing involves reducing dependency on distant multinationals and centring the public sector, workers and energy users co-operatives as well as small and medium Scottish companies,” it said.
It added: “The alternative is allowing multinational companies and neoliberal forces to shape the transition.
“This means failing to hit the necessary climate targets and increasingly precarious workplaces.”
Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “In recent months there have been mass lay-offs in the oil and gas industry.
“The ongoing insecurity due to the volatile price and finite nature of this resource has devastating consequences for families and communities.
“The only credible and responsible course of action is a managed transition towards sustainable sectors as outlined in this major report.”
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “As the report makes clear, Scotland will continue to be reliant on fossil fuels for many more years to come.
“However, the climate change science is also very clear that we urgently need to be weaning ourselves off those fossil fuels.
“We need to see a just transition that harnesses the people and skills currently employed in fossil fuel industries and create new opportunities in less-polluting alternatives.”