THE Scottish Greens have challenged the SNP Government to ditch fossil fuels to prove it is serious about fighting climate change.
Co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP said the First Minister had to ‘think bigger than cotton buds’ when it comes to tackling pollution caused by the petrochemicals industry.
It came on a day when the government announced it would look to ban plastic held cotton buds to help tackle marine and other pollution.
That follows an effective ban on fracking – which the government now faces a legal challenge over, moves for a plastic bottle deposit scheme, discussions over ways to crackdown on plastic drink cup use and other initiatives.
But the Scottish Greens – the traditional party for the environment – tried instead to paint the SNP as friend of fossil fuel firms as the government positions itself as the leaders in climate change action.
The Greens said more than 100 North Sea platforms are due to be decommissioned over the next ten years, along with over 1,800 wells and 7,500 kilometres of pipeline and said the Nats still supported the oil and gas sector.
And on the same day as Theresa May unveiled her government’s green strategies, and the Scottish Government moved towards a plastic cotton bud ban, Harvie MSP said: “Both governments are attempting to respond to the growing concern about plastic pollution: the UK is kicking the issue into the long grass by talking about what it might achieve by 2042; the Scottish Government wants to highlight the issue of cotton buds, though that’s an area where change is already happening with alternative products already in the shops.
“By talking about this issue merely as litter, the government risks implying that it’s all about consumer behaviour, instead of placing responsibility where it belongs, with the highly profitable businesses which are the source of the problem.”
He added: “Plastic pollution is utterly connected to our economic addiction to oil and gas: fossil fuels and industrial chemicals are two sides of the same coin.
“This week we learned that one oil industry voice wants to see decommissioned rigs simply dumped in the sea, while a fossil fuel company wants to take the government to court for protecting Scotland from fracking.
“Both UK and Scottish Governments like to claim credit for environmental action, but they both want ever bigger tax breaks for the very companies that are at the root of the environmental crisis.
“The First Minister today claimed to want to lead by example but isn’t it time to recognise that we can no longer invest our future in the fossil fuel industry, and that we instead embrace the positive fossil-free future that Scotland can have?”
However Nicola Sturgeon said his criticisms were “unfair”.
She said: “We support our oil and gas sector appropriately because it is important to our economy and lots of jobs depend on it.
“However, whether members agree or disagree with that, I genuinely do not think that it is fair to criticise the Scottish Government for a lack of action in our support for renewable energy.
“If anything, we are a world leader when it comes to the transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
“For example, in the programme for government we set out our ambition for electric and low-emission vehicles, on which we will take even greater action in the longer term.
“As Patrick Harvie has alluded, we have also taken the decision not to allow fracking in Scotland. Given this week’s announcement of the judicial review, I will not say more about that other than that we are confident in the decision that we have taken and the process behind it.
“We will continue to lead by example. The issue is important not just for this generation but for generations to come. We all have a responsibility to do the right thing, and this Government will continue to make sure that we do it.”
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