Rosebank: Oilfield development not in line with Paris Agreement, says net zero secretary

Rosebank has been given the go-ahead. Photo: Getty
Rosebank has been given the go-ahead. Photo: Getty

Scotland’s net zero and just transition secretary says the decision to approve Rosebank oilfield is not in line with the Paris Agreement.

Regulators have approved a licence to develop the Rosebank oilfield off the coast of Shetland, something the owners say will create hundreds of jobs and significantly boost Treasury coffers.

However it has been widely criticised by climate campaigners, with First Minister Humza Yousaf branding it “climate denial” and the wrong decision to make.

Net Zero and Just Transition Secretary Màiri McAllan. Image: Jane Barlow/Press Association.
Net Zero and Just Transition Secretary Màiri McAllan. Image: Jane Barlow/Press Association.

This all comes only a week after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rolled back on a number of green pledges, including delaying the ban on new petrol and diesel cars.

Now Màiri McAllan says this decision is not in line with the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning, Ms McAllan said: “Our position is level-headed and evidence-based.

“We have had long-held concerns about the prospect of Rosebank going ahead because this oil is primarily due for export and therefore cannot contribute to national energy security.

“We have a strong commitment to tackle climate change and the Scottish Government has been calling for strict climate compatibility tests to be applied to any new exploration licence.”

She said a number of different factors need to be taken into account, including the impact on the environment, the impact on workers in the north-east and energy security.

Ms McAllan added: “There are a series of things you need to have evidence of, and one is the extent to which the field is in line with Scotland and the UK’s climate change and the Paris Agreement commitment to keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“I don’t believe the assessments made are aligned to that 1.5 degree goal.

“I cannot see this was an appropriate decision to make, and a great many people who campaigned against this will be deeply, deeply disappointed.

She added the SNP government has “never advocated” for turning off the taps overnight and admits oil and gas will continue to be an important part of Scotland’s economy and society.

However she also said the “unlimited extraction of hydrocarbons” is incompatible with the climate emergency.

However this is something the Scottish Conservatives disagree with.

The party’s energy spokesman Douglas Lumsden said the government lacks understanding of the industry in speaking out against the Rosebank development.

He said: “This actually improves the energy security of the whole of Europe as here will be less Russian oil coming into European markets.

“It is also the right type of oil to be refined here in this country, so that is good news.

“It may not bring down prices, but it is a huge investment in the North Sea and thousands of jobs will be protected.”

He added the UK Climate Change Committee has already accounted for Rosebank being developed in its 2050 targets.