Leader - Call for 'reasoned debate' on oil and gas is not unreasonable

The Glasgow Climate Pact, a global agreement reached at the COP26 summit last month, was condemned by critics for being light on detail of how “net zero” can be achieved by 2050. The need to reduce carbon emissions was not in doubt but there was limited progress on how to achieve this.

The North Sea oil and gas industry is calling for a "reasoned debate" on the future of the sector.
The North Sea oil and gas industry is calling for a "reasoned debate" on the future of the sector.

Leaders of the Scottish and British chambers of commerce, along with the chief executive of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce and more than 60 energy businesses, have called for a “reasoned debate” on the future of the North Sea sector.

They accuse some politicians of calling for an end to expoloration and production without fully considering the implications.

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They said: “Statements calling for an end to new exploration and production have shaken investor confidence and placed tens of thousands of jobs – together with the economic wellbeing of whole communities across the UK – at risk.”

The move follows the Scottish Greens joining the SNP in coalition at Holyrood. Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie - the Scottish Government's minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights - recently provoked an outcry from the oil and gas sector and many in the north east when he claimed that only people on the "hard right" support new extraction from the North Sea.

There is a strong case against opening up new oil fields and in Scotland that argument has gained significant traction, with the recent decision to "pause" the proposed Cambo development west of the Shetland Islands.

But even in an age of heat pumps and electric vehicles, it is likely there will still be a requirement for crude oil and its by-products for many years to come.

A sudden reduction in production would not only put thousands of jobs in Scotland at risk, it would mean having to import more from the likes of Russia, where President Vladimir Putin is not known for his concern for the environment.

Recent polling for Oil and Gas UK found 55 per cent agreed it would not be possible to stop using oil and gas without significantly damaging the economy.

There is a consensus around the need to achieve net zero. But businesses are right to call for “reasoned debate” on how to do so.