THE UK Government’s decision to give the green light to the Rosebank oil field in the North Sea has been branded the “greatest act of environmental vandalism in my lifetime” by former first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Her successor Humza Yousaf also criticised the move saying that, despite Tory rhetoric around needing domestic oil and gas production to reach net zero, “the majority of what is extracted from Rosebank will go overseas, not remain in Scotland or the UK”.
Other politicians also criticised the move, with Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon saying it showed the Tory government “is intent on committing ecocide”.
“Approving Rosebank is catastrophic for the climate and nature. There will be no just transition for workers. We can’t let them away with this,” Lennon said.
The UK government is intent on committing ecocide.
Approving Rosebank is catastrophic for the climate and nature. There will be no just transition for workers. We can’t let them away with this. #StopRosebank https://t.co/vFKv6w8xGy
— Monica Lennon MSP (@MonicaLennon7) September 27, 2023
However, Keir Starmer’s UK Labour party have made clear that they will honour any North Sea oil and gas licences granted by the current Conservative government.
Rosebank, off the west of Shetland, is one of the largest untapped oil fields in UK waters. The companies behind oil field, Ithaca Energy and Equinor, said that the field is expected to start producing in 2026-2027, with the project supporting around 1600 at its peak during construction, and long-term will supply around 450 jobs.
The UK Government was criticised by campaigners for handing the firms “a multi-billion-pound tax break” to allow them to develop Rosebank, while others said they would take the decision to the courts.
Hitting out at the decision on Wednesday morning, Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “Rosebank oilfield just given go-ahead – the greatest act of environmental vandalism in my lifetime, causing emissions equal to 28 lowest income countries, busting climate targets and doing nothing for energy security since vast majority is for export.”
Agree with @CarolineLucas. Also, by consuming scarce resources that could be going to renewables, it risks slowing the green transition and the jobs that come from it. That’s not in interests of those who work in oil & gas - they need that transition to happen at pace #rosebank https://t.co/tRwfy14V2i
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 27, 2023
Sturgeon, the former SNP leader, wrote on Twitter/X that she agreed with Lucas, adding: “Also, by consuming scarce resources that could be going to renewables, it risks slowing the green transition and the jobs that come from it.
She added: “That’s not in interests of those who work in oil and gas – they need that transition to happen at pace.”
First Minister Yousaf said he was “disappointed” to see the Rosebank field approved, going on: “We recognise the significant contribution the oil and gas sector makes to Scotland. However, our future is not in unlimited oil and gas extraction. It is in accelerating our just transition to renewables. New oil and gas fields being approved risk the pace of that transition.
“In the face of a climate catastrophe, the UK Government have dropped their green pledges and committed to approving 100 new oil and gas licences. That isn't climate leadership. It is climate denial.
“Scotland will remain on the right side of history and demonstrate climate leadership.”
The Scottish Greens also railed against the decision, accusing the Tory government of showing “a total disregard for our planet and mood of the nation”.
Mark Ruskell MSP pointed to a report from the International Energy Agency, published on Tuesday, that said a switch to greener energy would save $12 trillion globally by 2050 and create twice as many jobs as would be lost in the transition.
“Clean technologies needed for net-zero by 2050 are capital-intensive, but they cost less to run,” environment journalist Simon Evans wrote.
But Conservative politicians praised the approval of the Rosebank oil field. Scottish Tory MSP Douglas Lumsden (above) said: “The decision to approve Rosebank is fantastic news for the UK’s energy security and for jobs in Scotland’s oil and gas sector.
“As we aim to achieve net zero in the coming years, it is only right that we should focus on relying on domestic sources of production, rather than importing oil and gas from volatile sources and from dictators like Vladimir Putin.”
It adds that gas produced from the field “will ultimately end up in the UK grid”.
The Tories' Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho reflected Lumsden's claims, saying: “We are investing in our world-leading renewable energy but, as the independent Climate Change Committee recognise, we will need oil and gas as part of that mix on the path to net zero and so it makes sense to use our own supplies from North Sea fields such as Rosebank.
“We will continue to back the UK’s oil and gas industry to underpin our energy security, grow our economy and help us deliver the transition to cheaper, cleaner energy.”
Former first minister Alex Salmond came out swinging at both sides, saying Rosebank should have been allowed to go ahead but accusing the Tories of failing to properly put claimet restrictions in place.
He said: “Outright opposition to Rosebank is daft. The UK would end up importing more dirtier hydrocarbons at greater cost and you cannot secure the so-called 'just transition' by shutting down the North Sea.
"However, the field licence condition for Rosebank could and should have imposed a net zero carbon condition on this field, not as a general industry aspiration, but specifically for this hyper-lucrative field development."
Salmond added: "Instead of a coherent energy strategy, we have a missed opportunity played out between a revenue greedy Tory government, a hapless Labour opposition and a Scottish administration who are all at sea on energy policy. They shout slogans at each other while economic and environmental opportunity is allowed to pass Scotland by."