SCOTLAND has a “moral imperative” to seek a just transition away from fossil fuels, the First Minister has said, as he announced a £7m boost to funding for green hydrogen projects.

Speaking at the All-Energy Conference in Glasgow on Wednesday, Humza Yousaf drew parallels with the Thatcher government’s move away from coal and steel in the 1980s, which caused a spike in unemployment in mining communities.

Following an anti-poverty summit in Edinburgh last week, the FM told the conference that securing a just transition is key to the Scottish Government’s plan to tackle poverty and invest in public services.

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Yousaf highlighted the need to move away from oil and gas in a way that does not inflict economic damage on the industry and the significant number of jobs it supports in the north east.

The FM also announced the Scottish Government has allocated £7 million to 32 different green hydrogen projects, as well as calling for action from the UK Government.

“We are committed to that just transition, not just as a Government policy, but frankly as a moral imperative,” Yousaf said.

“We’re enthusiastic for it as an economic opportunity and we see making progress towards net zero as one of the defining missions of the Government.”

The National: The FM said a just transition is key to his pledge to tackle poverty in ScotlandThe FM said a just transition is key to his pledge to tackle poverty in Scotland (Image: PA)

He went on to say the Scottish Government would “rise to the challenge” of decarbonisation.

“Decarbonisation on the pace and scale that we need isn’t something that can be easily done, but we’re committed to rising to that challenge, to working with others, whether it’s local government, whether it’s UK Government, whether it’s partners here, whether it’s all of you here in this room,” Yousaf said.

“Through all the challenges we face, and the many real financial constraints that we’re under as a Government, I can promise you that there is absolutely no lack of commitment from me as the First Minister, or indeed from the Government that I lead.”

The FM announced £7m of the £100m committed to supporting the green hydrogen sector has been allocated to the Hydrogen Innovation scheme.

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The investment will support 32 projects ranging from a study into treating water in the River Clyde in Glasgow to produce hydrogen cheaply, a Hydrogen Innovation Hub at Glasgow airport for storage and distribution, and commission a study on the use of tidal energy around Yell, Shetland Islands, to produce hydrogen.

Green hydrogen is an environmentally friendly fuel and has a much lower carbon footprint than blue hydrogen, which is produced from fossil fuels.

The FM said: “The projects cover a wide range of different areas - such as how to produce and store hydrogen on floating windfarms, and how to decarbonise agriculture and forestry work in rural areas.

“Together, they show the range of possible ways in which hydrogen can be produced, used and stored. They highlight the expertise and innovation that is already such an important part of the sector. And, of course, they demonstrate the scale of the opportunities that hydrogen can create.”

The National: The FM also called on the UK to back the Acorn carbon capture project in the north eastThe FM also called on the UK to back the Acorn carbon capture project in the north east (Image: FJ)

We previously told how the FM warned that Scotland will miss out on transformational opportunities for green energy without an urgent change in policy from the UK Government.

During his speech opening the conference, Yousaf called on the UK Government to address flaws in the transmission charges system, match the £500 million Just Transition Fund for the north east and Moray, develop a more ambitious strategy for green investment, and announce an accelerated timetable for the Acorn Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) scheme.

CCUS has come under criticism from some campaigners, who say the technology is unproven and will extend the life of the oil and gas industry. The technology can capture carbon dioxide produced by industry, to be stored underground.

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Asked why carbon capture was included in his asks to the UK Government despite criticism from environmental campaigners, Yousaf told The National: “I think carbon capture, utilisation and storage is incredibly important to remove that carbon and CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.

“I think Scotland is in a really good place to take advantage of that in terms of those industries that do produce carbon, making sure it can be stored properly and further utilised.

"It’s a real shame actually that the UK Government have made promises for over a decade in relation to CCUS but they’ve never ever delivered, even now they’ve only made vague promises without any firm timetable, or any funding commitment.”

Asked if he thinks the UK Government, who opened up a new licensing round for oil and gas projects in the North Sea in October last year, would listen to his requests, the FM added: “I hope so. I’ll continue to raise them with the UK Government.”