Nicola Sturgeon has today written to Boris Johnson calling for a review of a controversial plan to drill a new oil field off the west coast of Shetland.
She said that drilling licenses for fields such as Cambo should “be reassessed in light of the severity of the climate emergency we now face”.
Although the First Minister acknowledged the importance of the oil and gas industry to the Scottish economy, “we cannot rest on business as normal”.
In 2019, the oil and gas industry contributed £9bn in gross value added to the Scottish economy last year, more than 5 per cent of GDP.
Her letter comes just days after a new report from the United Nations declared climate change a “code red for humanity”.
Sturgeon also called for a four nation summit between the UK’s constituent countries so that the UK can provide “clear leadership” to the rest of the world.
In a few months Glasgow will play host to COP26, the UN’s flagship climate summit, which many have billed as the last chance for nations to commit to significant cuts to emissions.
Back in June it was revealed that ministers had approved the new oil field at Cambo to the anger of environmental campaigners.
The field is expected to produce 150m barrels of oil over its 25-year lifetime, with its first oil expected in 2025.
The decision came despite a recently launched plan cut emissions from the North Sea basin, which produces 3.5 per cent of the UK’s yearly greenhouse gases, by 60m tonnes – or 50 per cent – over the decade.
That plan – the North Sea transition deal – includes a new “climate checkpoint”, which enables ministers to check whether projects are “compatible with the UK’s climate change objectives”.
However, because the Cambo well was licensed for exploration in 2001 and 2004, it will not be subject to the checks, it was reported.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK is the only G7 country to have agreed a landmark deal to support the oil and gas industry’s transition to green energy by 2050 while at the same time supporting 40,000 jobs.
“Even though demand for fossil fuels is falling and we continue to break records on our use of renewable energy, the advice of the independent Climate Change Committee is that we will continue to need oil and gas in the coming years as it is still vital to the production of many everyday essentials like medicines.
“We have already ended support for fossil fuels overseas, and are already designing a climate compatibility checkpoint which will ensure any future licenses will only be granted if they are aligned with the UK’s climate change objectives.”