Nicola Sturgeon refuses to commit to ending North Sea oil production amid climate emergency

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire
Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA Wire
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Nicola Sturgeon will today unveil an “ambitious” package of measures to tackle climate change, but has refused to commit to ending oil and gas production in the North Sea.

The SNP leader says Scotland must “up its game” in the fight against global warming and is poised to set out tough new measures in her government’s programme of legislation for the year ahead as MSPs return to Holyrood today after their summer break.

Opponents accused Ms Sturgeon of failing to deliver in key public services like education and health.

The First Minister has warned of a climate emergency and was asked yesterday when she plans to “turn off the taps” in the North Sea to address this.

But she said: “I’m not going to do that because these are complex issues.”

She added: “What would happen is that we would have to have substituted imports of oil and gas, perhaps from countries, with a higher carbon density because there are less rigid regulations.

“These are all decisions that we will set out in a very ambitious package of measures tomorrow to start that process of upping our game in response to the climate emergency.

“Nobody, I think, when they listen to the Programme for Government will doubt the intent of the Scottish Government to lead by example, as we have been doing, and make sure that Scotland ends its contribution to climate change by 2045 at the latest, which is ahead of any other part of the UK.”

The Tories have pointed out a string of polices where the SNP has “failed to deliver” from previous government programmes.

This includes failing to end the educational “attainment gap” with economic investment of £500 million still “way off course”, while a drive to recruit mental health workers has fallen short.

Tory chief whip Maurice Golden said: “We can see here that pledges on everything from health and education to justice and the environment have been abandoned, fallen short or simply vanished into thin air.

“With that in mind, why should any sensible voter take seriously what they hear from Nicola Sturgeon this time around.

“The Programme for Government presents an opportunity for the Scottish Government to make a real difference to people’s lives, to the wellbeing of business and to the health of Scotland’s economy.

“Instead, the SNP repeatedly squanders these chances and that’s the hallmark of a complacent and negligent government.”

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said an “emergency response” was now needed to combat the climate crisis.

“The First Minister declared a climate emergency six months ago, but there has been little in the way of an emergency response since,” he said. “In the face of this crisis, we need to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”