Cop26 climate summit: Scotland must ensure oil workers have jobs to go to as fossil fuels are phased out – Scotsman comment

17 days to Cop26: The speed at which Scotland is to transform into a net-zero carbon economy – a process to be completed in just 24 years, according to the Scottish government – can seem frightening.

Nicola Sturgeon's government must work with industry to ensure the transition to net-zero carbon emissions happens as smoothly as possible (Picture: Russell Cheyne/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Given how dependent we are on fossil fuels, in particular for transport and heating, some may doubt the target of 2045, five years before the rest of the UK, is achievable.

However, one thing is clear. The longer we delay action, the greater the pace of change will need to be, with all the attendant risks of making major changes too quickly.

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One of those risks is mass unemployment when those working in the oil and gas industries, in particular, start to lose their jobs.

Giving a Ted Talk in Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon rightly said that “we’ve got to be careful that we don’t leave people and communities behind” in the transition to net-zero.

“The way in which we make the transition matters, but we can’t have business as usual, because if we keep telling ourselves we can rely on fossil fuels forever, then we’ll never make that transition and that’s the key point we’ve got to address,” she said.

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Nicola Sturgeon Ted Talk: Energy transition must not leave anyone behind, warns ...

Turning Scotland from a country built on coal, oil and gas to one fit for the 21st-century Industrial Revolution unfolding around us is not just necessary as part of the world’s efforts to avoid dangerous global warming, it is also in our national economic interest. This is obviously the future.

But failing to properly manage this momentous transformation would be a historic blunder which could make that future unnecessarily bleak for far too many people.

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