Tuesday, 19 Oct 2021

‘Shameless!’ Nicola Sturgeon branded ‘Boris’s spin doctor’ – Shetland oil field row erupts

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The Scottish First Minister will speak at the Arctic Circle Assembly to build links with Arctic nations and stress how all countries must work together to tackle the climate emergency. Ms Sturgeon is expected to meet leading Scandinavian leaders at the crunch summit, chaired by former Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.

Ahead of a two-day trip to Reykjavik on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said on Wednesday Scotland must “be careful” not to leave communities behind as it transitions away from oil and gas.

Giving a Ted Talk in Edinburgh on Wednesday, the First Minister also again refused to voice opposition to the Cambo oil field development proposed near Shetland which has proven controversial with politicians and environmental campaigners alike.

Ms Sturgeon stressed the supply of oil and gas cannot be turned off completely in the short term because that may lead to a spike in imports, as well as economic problems caused by mass lay-offs.

She also repeated calls for licences to extract oil and gas from the North Sea to be reassessed by the UK Government given the current threat of climate change.

Commenting on the trip, Scottish Labour’s Net Zero and Energy Transport spokesperson, Monica Lennon MSP, said: “Nicola Sturgeon appears to have taken on a new role as Boris Johnson’s spin doctor.

“Nicola Sturgeon needs to get off the fence and shout from the rooftops about the damage Cambo would do.

“Cop26 is around the corner, and time is running out to persuade Boris Johnson to do the right thing.

“It is utterly shameless for the First Minister to pay lip service to a just transition for workers when her own government has barely lifted a finger to make it a reality.”

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The proposed Cambo oil field off Shetland could produce 150 million barrels of oil and would operate until 2050 when Britain has pledged to be carbon neutral.

The UK Government looks set to go ahead with the plans while Ms Sturgeon refused to show clear opposition to the project. 

This is despite a report commissioned by UK ministers ahead of the Cop26 climate change conference which said there should be “no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects”.

During her TED speech, the Scottish First Minister also stressed the importance of small countries doing their part to tackle climate change.

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She added: “My point today is that yes, big countries matter, but the leadership of small nations matters too.

“It’s often states and regions and small nations that can step in when the bigger countries fail to act.”

When former US President Donald Trump took his country out of the Paris climate agreement during his tenure, it was a “coalition of states and cities that kept the momentum going”, the Scottish First Minister made clear. 

The SNP leader added: “If we raise our ambition and if we follow that through with action, then we can spur the bigger countries to go further and faster too.”

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With Cop26 coming to Glasgow at the end of this month, Ms Sturgeon said it was imperative that leaders leave Scotland’s biggest city able to “look the next generation in the eye”, knowing they have done enough to stave off what scientists have identified as humanity’s biggest threat.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Glasgow, and the agreement that comes out of Glasgow, must – in detail, not in rhetoric, in detailed funding commitments and in other commitments – have the ability to meet the Paris objective.

“If it doesn’t do that, then we will be letting down future generations and in my view that is unthinkable and we should not let it happen.”

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