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Nicola Sturgeon news: SNP blasted for oil drilling vow after First Minister’s COP25 posing | Politics | News

Nicola Sturgeon pushes independence again at COP 26

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-union campaign group Scotland In Union, was commenting on remarks by Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, about the possibility of future oil and gas exploration. Meanwhile Labour has also waded into the row, with Net Zero and Energy spokesperson Monica Lennon saying: “These comments are the latest example of the flagrant hypocrisy we have all come to expect from the SNP.

Posing for pictures with Greta Thunberg isn’t a substitute for real action on the environment

Monica Lennon

“The First Minister preaches one thing on the world stage while her Net Zero secretary says the opposite.”

She added: “Posing for pictures with Greta Thunberg isn’t a substitute for real action on the environment.”

Mr Matheson’s remarks came just weeks after Ms Sturgeon herself said it would be “fundamentally wrong” for developed nations to continue to explore for oil and gas “ until the last possible moment”.

However, Mr Matheson insisted an independent Scotland would “require an access” to hydrocarbon fuels, which he suggested in itself justified the continuation of new oilfields.

COP26, being held in Glasgow, is committed to tackling climate change with the aim of persuading world leaders to sign up to a commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade by 2050.

Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP would not stop drilling for oil and gas immediately (Image: GETTY)

Michael Matheson

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport (Image: GETTY)

In order to achieve such a target, countries – including Scotland – would need dramatically to scale back on their reliance on fossil fuels.

Ms Nash said: “While Nicola Sturgeon tries to grandstand on the world stage at COP26, her ministers admit that a separate Scotland would continue exploring and drilling for oil and gas.

“This shows the SNP’s green credentials are just a mirage and – as always – the nationalists are more interested in constitutional division than working together to tackle the climate emergency.”

Referring to a document which Mr Matheson also reaffirmed his commitment to, she added: “The 2014 White Paper, with its reliance on an oil boom, has been completely discredited.

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Greta Thunberg Nicola Sturgeon

Greta Thunberg and Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow (Image: Reuters)

“And the SNP should drop any plans for a rewrite and focus on what really matters to people.”

Speaking to the Scotsman, Mr Matheson dashed hopes that an independent Scotland would immediately stop drilling for oil and gas.

He said: “We’re still some way off from decarbonising our society and we will still require an access to a level of hydrocarbons.”

Mr Matheson stressed an independent Scotland would need to balance its need for hydrocarbons to keep the economy on track with its pledge to hit net zero by 2045.

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Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon at COP26 (Image: GETTY)

Oil rig Scotland

An oil rig in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland (Image: GETTY)

He added: “This is part of the challenge you have within a devolved settlement in Scotland, is that we have got statutory targets to become net zero by 2045.

“But some of the decision making that needs to made in order to help us achieve that remain reserved to the UK Government.

“It is in some ways one of the things that the UK Government need to recognise and acknowledge is that there are different timelines in the UK in becoming net zero.

“They need to make decisions in line with what is required in Scotland to help to support us and at present moment there is a bit of a disjoint in how that happens.”

An rally Scotland

An rally in support of Scottish independence in 2014 (Image: GETTY)

Referring to the 2014 White Paper, which indicated oil and gas revenues would be crucial to the future prosperity of Scotland, he denied the strategy was now outdated.

He explained: “Oil and gas has played a really important part in the Scottish and UK economy for many decades.

“It will continue to play an important part in our economy going forward, although a diminishing role given it is a declining basin and our reliance on oil and gas is reducing.”

Speaking at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre in October, Ms Sturgeon said: “Tens of thousands of jobs are dependent – currently – on oil and gas production.

Net Zero factfile

Net Zero factfile (Image: Express)

“Those jobs and the people in them matter. And, of course, much of our energy use is still catered for by oil and gas.

She added: “So for countries like ours, with significant remaining reserves of oil and gas, it is tempting to tell ourselves that for both economic and energy reasons, we must keep exploring for and extracting oil and gas until the last possible moment. That, in my view, would be fundamentally wrong.

“It’s an approach that cannot be justified in the face of the climate emergency, but it can’t be justified economically either.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the SNP for further comment.

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