THE Scottish Greens have warned the SNP not to U-turn on its presumption against new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, First Minister John Swinney was questioned on whether his government continued to hold a presumption against new oil and gas developments in order to tackle climate change.

The policy was first introduced by Nicola Sturgeon following the creation of the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens in 2021 and featured in party’s draft energy strategy in 2023.

While the ability to grant new oil and gas licences is reserved to Westminster, the policy was seen as proof of the SNP’s commitment to tackling climate change.

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However, the SNP has been hugely critical of the Labour Party’s pledge to introduce a “proper” windfall tax on fossil fuel companies and end new oil and gas developments.

The party’s leader at Westminster, Stephen Flynn, said the plan is “extremely dangerous” to Scotland and could result in the loss of up to 100,000 jobs, largely in the north east.

“We need the oil and gas sector to contribute to the transition to net zero, so it has to be strong enough and robust enough to do that,” said Swinney.

"In addition to that, I want to make sure that the sector is able to contribute to the objectives of energy security that we’ve set out in our policy programme.

“It’s an exploration of our position, that’s how I would describe it. The Scottish Government wants to work with the oil and gas sector to ensure its fiscal sustainability.”

The National: Prime Minister’s Questions

The Scottish Greens climate spokesperson, Mark Ruskell, said the SNP could not “face both ways” when it came to fossil fuels.

“The science is clear,” he said.

“Any shift away from a presumption against new oil and gas exploration would be an act of climate betrayal.

“It would undermine years of progress we have made in Scotland and send a terrible message to young people and future generations.

“There is so much potential in our renewable sectors, and that is where we need our focus to be, not on trying to extract even more oil from our North Sea.

“When the previous First Minister committed to opposing new developments it represented a sea change in Scottish politics.

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“Here was one of the first oil-rich states saying that enough was enough and that we have to stop new drilling.

“We need to hold to that commitment not just today but going forward.

“Over the last few months we have seen the SNP trying to face both ways on fossil fuels. It’s not good enough.

“We are in a climate emergency and people deserve clarity about what Scotland is doing to tackle it.

“Only a vote for the Scottish Greens on July 4 will help us to take the action that is needed.”