Douglas Ross has urged Nicola Sturgeon to support Scottish jobs in the oil and gas industry as he accused the SNP of “playing childish political games”.
The Scottish Conservative leader has written to the First Minister highlighting the importance of the sector.
It comes after Sturgeon called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “reassess” oil and gas plans, including the licence granted for the Cambo development off Shetland.
Campaigners have called for the project to be scrapped, whilst Sturgeon told STV News there are “real doubts” about whether going ahead with new oil and gas production is consistent with the country’s climate change obligations.
However, Ross has raised concerns that abandoning the sector could leave working class families with higher energy bills.
“The SNP used to shout from the rooftops that ‘it’s Scotland’s oil’ – now they wish it was gone,” he said.
“More than 100,000 jobs depend on Scotland’s oil and gas industry. A speedy but sensible transition to net zero is essential to protect those jobs, our communities and the wider economy.
“Where are working class families supposed to find the cash to pay the higher energy bills that would emerge from abandoning the North Sea sector?
“The oil and gas industry has more detailed plans for reaching net zero than the SNP Government, which has missed its climate change targets three years running.
“As usual, there is a vast gap between the SNP’s words and actions.”
Ross said that the SNP should focus instead on tackling the economic crisis caused by the Covid pandemic.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s letter is motivated primarily by the constitution, not the climate,” he said.
“This change of heart is about sealing a nationalist deal with the Greens and provoking a grievance with the UK Government in the run up to COP26.
“Instead of playing childish political games to further their nationalist interests, the SNP should focus on tackling the Covid economic crisis.”
A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “We recognise the importance of the North Sea offshore sector to Scotland’s economy – but we also recognise the reality of the climate emergency and the ‘code red for humanity’ which was signalled this week.
“Industry leaders themselves recognise the need for a just transition. Douglas Ross should acknowledge that, and the fact that Scotland is uniquely well placed to utilise the skills and expertise of the North Sea sector to achieve that transition so that jobs and prosperity can be secured in the years to come.”