Patrick Harvie: Scottish Greens will never back new oil and gas extraction

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Continued oil and gas extraction in an independent Scotland is not the position of the Scottish Greens, the party’s co-leader has said after Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary said it would likely continue.

As part of the co-operation agreement that gave the Greens two ministers in the Scottish Government, the future of oil and gas is a position where the two sides do not have to agree.

Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson told The Scotsman newspaper on Monday that an independent Scotland would continue drilling for oil and gas.

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

Michael Matheson
Michael Matheson has said the country would need ‘access’ to oil and gas after independence (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Speaking to journalists after an event on Thursday at Cop26, Patrick Harvie stressed the rift between his party and the SNP on oil and gas.

“This is one of the issues where we’ve been very clear in the co-operation agreement. It’s an issue where the Greens and the SNP don’t have a fully shared position,” he said.

“The Greens are very clear, as are the majority of the world’s climate experts, including the likes of the International Energy Authority, who say no new oil and gas extraction.

“That’s our position, that’s the position of, I think, a great many people here at Cop and I think it’s the position that all of the Scottish political landscape will get to as well.

“It’s only a few months since every political party, excluding the Greens, were supporting maximum economic extraction – that’s now dead as a policy. It’s only the Conservatives who are isolated in pretending you can carry on with that and take the climate emergency seriously.”

Sun rising behind an oil platform in the North Sea
Patrick Harvie said he thinks Scotland will eventually have to accept the move away from fossil fuels (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Harvie added: “That shift in the political landscape hasn’t yet reached where the Greens are at and, I think, a lot of people understand that two political parties can agree on some things, disagree on others and still find ways to work together constructively.

“But I think everybody, ultimately, is going to have to arrive at the point of saying, ‘oil and gas is not our future’, let’s harness the immense renewable potential of Scotland.”

Mr Harvie also tried to counter previous criticism of Greenpeace after he suggested the environmental activists did not understand the political landscape of Scotland after they criticised the First Minister’s position on the controversial Cambo oil field.

The Greens co-leader, who stressed he is a donor and supporter of Greenpeace, rejected the idea he was in a “briefing war” with the pressure group, saying: “I certainly didn’t do that – I made some very supportive comments about what Greenpeace do and I said they’re a little bit more tuned into UK politics than Scottish politics.”

Meanwhile, Mr Harvie told an event on the decarbonisation of buildings in Scotland that Cop26 came “decades” too late and action much earlier would have made the transition away from fossil fuels easier.

“This is not the moment, this is not the best time to be making these changes, the best time was decades ago,” he said.

“If we had started making a lot of the changes we had been talking about, they could have been done slowly, easily and probably more cheaply.

“We’re only in a climate emergency now because we didn’t take that action, not just in Scotland – but globally. We didn’t take that action on the time scale that we should have.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting