North Sea oil and gas 'won't be affected' by SNP/Green deal

Scottish Greens will demand the SNP “move” on North Sea oil and gas as negotiations between the two parties around a potential co-operation agreement begin this week.

Concerns have been raised by the Scottish Conservatives that any agreement would “jeopardise” the future of the energy sector in the north east due to the long-standing opposition of the Greens to the industry.

However, Ross Greer speaking to The Scotsman’s political podcast The Steamie, said the Greens’ wish for a “just transition” meant it was the only party “prioritising the jobs of people who work in the north east”.

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Asked whether the differing positions held by the SNP and the Greens over the North Sea energy sector could see talks collapse, the Green MSP for the West of Scotland said his party would continue to oppose the practice and would ask the SNP to “move” around its support of the industry.

Conservatives have warned the North East energy sector is at risk from a SNP/Green cooperation agreement.

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He said: “In terms of how that affects these negotiations, a lot of it bluntly does not affect them directly because a lot of what we are talking about in terms of North Sea oil and gas policy is reserved.

“The Scottish Government cannot rescind licenses for exploration and extraction. That is done at a UK Government level.

"As far as that goes, it makes these talks easier obviously because that big and incredibly difficult issue can’t even really be on the table whether we want it to or not because it is not something either party in these negotiations actually has direct control over.

"The stuff that is more challenging is the indirect stuff. We did have stuff in our manifesto about the various ways the Scottish Government supports the oil and gas industry and the issues that we obviously have with that and the fact that we would want to see a just transition.

"That’s obviously one of the areas we would expect the SNP to have to move.”

On Sunday, Scottish Conservative shadow energy secretary Liam Kerr claimed the Greens’ opposition to carbon capture and gas and oil extraction would fail to protect jobs in the region.

This was rejected by Mr Greer who said it was the failure of the other four main Scottish parties to oppose continued exploration and extraction in the region that would see job losses in the future in a similar vein to those experienced as Scotland deindustrialised in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

He said: “That industry is not and cannot be our future either as a country or economy or as a planet.

"Either the oil and gas jobs come to an end because we have managed that transition and we have transitioned people into new jobs without massive economic turmoil, and that is exactly what the Greens propose, or it comes to an end because of climate breakdown.

"The Greens are the ones who are actually prioritising the jobs of people who work in the north east, so that’s the kind of issue we would obviously want to explore.

"But being realistic, a lot of what I’ve just talked about is reserved, not devolved, policy and our priority is doing as much as we can with the powers we have got right now.

"We could easily fall out over a whole range of reserved policies, but what would be the point?”

Readers can listen to the full interview with Mr Greer on The Steamie.

The Steamie is available from all of your favourite podcast providers, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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