MSP ‘terrified’ for North Sea industry if Greens handed power

MSPs have debated how to address the climate emergency.

MSP ‘terrified’ for North Sea industry if Greens handed power PA Ready

A Conservative MSP has said he is “terrified” for the oil and gas industry if the Scottish Greens are in power.

Liam Kerr said the Greens have a “knee-jerk, cliff-edge” approach to ending production in the North Sea industry.

MSPs debated how to address the climate emergency in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday.

The Scottish Greens are in talks with the SNP about a formal cooperation agreement, which could allow Green MSPs to become ministers in future.

Kerr, who is the Conservative shadow minister for net-zero, energy and transport, said: “I am worried about the Greens.

“Actually, like workers, businesses and families across the North East of Scotland, I’m terrified of the consequences of them ever getting near the levers of power with their knee-jerk, cliff-edge intentions.

“Because those workers heard (Scottish Greens co-leader) Lorna Slater saying last year it is her ambition to shut down the oil and gas sector within two to five years.

“Despite oil and gas still supporting 100,000 jobs, providing three-quarters of the UK’s energy needs and meeting 70% of demand last year.”

He said the Greens’ ambition for absolute zero emissions was not realistic, saying carbon capture and storage would be an important step towards net-zero.

Slater said there is broad public support for winding down the North Sea industry, referring to a recent survey on the issue.

Responding to Kerr later in the debate, she said: “According to the survey almost two-thirds of Scots support the creation of a concrete plan to wind down the existing extraction of oil and gas in the North Sea.

“So the approach to wind down the industry has wide public support, I’m more than happy to talk about a specific timeline that would make the member happy.”

She said the Scottish Parliament has already committed to supporting people in the industry into green jobs.

Slater also called on the UK Government to rule out new licences for oil and gas exploration.

Michael Matheson, the cabinet secretary for net-zero, energy and transport, said Scotland has decarbonised faster than other economies in G20 nations since 2008, halving greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.

He said: “What is already clear is that the second half of the journey to net-zero will be far more challenging.

“We must now achieve in the next ten years what it has taken over the last 30 years.

“This will be a decisive and defining decade for us all.”

He said the Scottish Government’s recent climate change plan brought together 150 different policies, including a commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030.

He added: “The journey to net-zero will transform every aspect of our lives.

“How we live, how we work and how we travel. I want Scotland to seize the opportunity that becoming a net-zero society presents, growing our economy and enhancing our natural environment.”

Matheson’s motion committed to working across parties “to restore nature and become a net-zero nation”.

Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon said: “In a few months’ time, the eyes of the world will fall in Scotland when we welcome the COP26 conference to Glasgow.

“This will be a crucial milestone, commencing the decade where Paris Agreement measures take effect and where significant emissions cuts are required to limit global warming to one-and-a-half degrees.

“Scottish Labour would like the Scottish Government to lead by example and we’ll support every endeavour towards that.”

Speaking for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton said transport has been Scotland’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and reducing that “has to be one of the main missions of this parliament”.

He added: “We don’t have a chance of meeting our climate change targets unless options for transport are truly, rapidly and radically decarbonised.”

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