Scotland’s energy mix will be moving away from reliance on oil and gas as soon as possible, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced in a speech at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre on Monday.
Sturgeon also confirmed that a new £500m ‘Just Transition’ energy strategy is anticipated for publication next year, which will support the move to a net-zero economy and is to have a particular emphasis on the northeast of Scotland.
The new strategy will, according to Sturgeon, be based on the principle that “unlimited extraction of fossil fuels … is not consistent with our climate obligations”.
The announcement comes just as Scotland is gearing up for COP26 in Glasgow on Sunday and sets the tone for the host country’s intention to lead by example in the renewable transition.
In her speech, Sturgeon said that an analysis of the country’s energy landscape needs to be undertaken to best identify the ways the sector can support the Paris targets, and a “catch-up plan” is also expected to be published by the government later this week.
The statement marks a departure from the SNP’s previous position – which it has maintained for most of the past decade – that made revenues from the North Sea oil deposits a central part of its campaigns.
The transition as laid out by Sturgeon is not anticipated to be an entirely smooth one, given the sector’s significance in the country both economically and in terms of job creation. Such a reliance was acknowledged by Sturgeon, who said that maintaining job security would be a priority in the transition process. Yet, she also stressed the fact that continuing to depend on these extractive industries would be “fundamentally wrong”.
“The more we tell ourselves we will always have oil and gas as a safety net, the less motivated we will be to speed up the development of the alternatives, to train people for new jobs in emerging technologies, and to deliver the just transition we and the world needs,” she said.
Sturgeon also highlighted the lessons learned throughout the pandemic could stand the country in good stead when it comes to aiding the transition to a cleaner economy.
The first minister’s full speech is available on the Scottish Government website.