ROSEBANK. It’s a beautiful name. You see crimson blooms cascading down a rough-cast garden wall. Except, just beneath the petals and leaves, there’s the black bubble and haze of 500 million barrels of oil.

Extracting from the Rosebank fossil-fuel field off the Shetland Islands – which, if commissioned, will be emptied by 2051 – would burst through the UK’s declared carbon budget for oil and gas production, from 2028 onwards.

Developing this one field would create more pollution than 700 million people from the world’s poorest nations do in a year.

In 2021, at COP26 in Glasgow, delegates were told (by the International Energy Authority) that there could be no new fossil-fuel explorations and developments from that year onwards if we hoped to keep global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

READ MORE: Scottish Government challenged to oppose Rosebank oil field before UK sign-off

Yet if it’s relaxed to 2.0C, we are likely to trigger up to 10 metres of sea level rise, because of ice-cap melt on a warming planet by the end of the century.

Stop and imagine. Can you see and feel the chaos of that? In cities, in the movements of people, in the destruction of croplands?

The general failure to imagine such scenarios is what drives rebellions against extinction, or crude and visceral stunts to “just stop oil”. In the meantime, the clown-shoed farce of Tory government tumbles on.

Let’s start with this notion. The final decision to develop the Rosebank field – this project sitting shamefully within a UK Government policy to licence hundreds of new North Sea exploitations – lands on Grant Shapps’s desk.

Yes, Shappsy. So crude he named himself twice. Let’s not expect Solomonic judgement here.

But also, consider these eye-popping facts. If approved, the UK Government will grant £3.75 billion of subsidy, 90% of the cost of developing the field, to the Norwegian company Equinor.

The National: Chris Skidmore

Even the former chair of the UK Government’s net-zero review, Tory MP Chris Skidmore (above), notes that developing Rosebank “may inhibit the UK’s transition away from fossil fuels, due to competition for critical and limited supply chains that both [renewable and fossil-fuel] industries share, including ports, vessels and skilled workforces”.

Meaning: They’re making an active choice against spending on renewable energy infrastructure.

It’s somewhat complex for Scots politicians. Yes, we have a coalition government where Greens claim they have ensured a “presumption against extraction” in the Scottish Government’s climate and energy plan. And yes, Scotland has no sovereignty over these decisions.

But I discern some disheartening wobbling, compared with Nicola Sturgeon’s prior strong opposition to the Cambo oil and gas field (three times smaller than Rosebank).

Journalists are seeking – in vain – government MSP voices opposed to Rosebank. They’re also unearthing scores of meetings between Holyrood representatives and oil lobbyists. And First Minister Humza Yousaf flapped out a response the other day, using one of the worst cliches of energy pragmatism: “We know we can’t just turn off the taps tomorrow”.

But that metaphor is falsely applied. It’s actually about not turning new taps on. No less than the UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, responding to a new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in March, called for the “ceasing [of] all licensing or funding of new oil and gas… the climate time-bomb is ticking”.

So there should be no ambiguity about Rosebank in Scottish leadership circles. Yet there’s an evident tentativeness. It’s as if Scottish ministers assume that, lurking beneath the surface, there’s some kind of populist anti-green backlash just waiting to be – as it were – ignited.

There are, of course, robust alternative models to lean on, which assume the context (and pursuit) of independence. The Common Weal think tank produced an energy agenda in 2019 which advocated for a multi-billion-pound infrastructure spend under independence.

But the focus was on hydrogen-based district heating systems, house insulation and construction, extensive charging infrastructure for electric vehicles … not subsidising fossil-fuel giants to continue their toxic profiteering.

Common Weal is notorious for its critique of how cheaply the Scotwind auctions of offshore wind farms were sold off. But sometimes reality beggars protest. Cerulean Winds, one of the winners in the Crown Estate’s leasing round, announced its “North Sea Renewables Grid” last week.

Its function? To provide green power to the operations of … existing fossil-fuel platforms (which currently use oil and diesel). Weird, but true.

The National: RWE's Gwynt y Mor, the world's 2nd largest offshore wind farm located eight miles offshore in Liverpool Bay, off the coast of North Wales. Picture date: Tuesday July 26, 2022..

Yet there’s much that’s weird about petro-civilisation – and we should try not to forget it. Take the massive, on-the-record scandals about fossil-fuel companies and their long-standing knowledge of the crisis their business model was inducing.

Earlier this year, research discovered that Exxon’s private global warming projections, made in the 70s and 80s, were even more accurate than publicly-funded university research.

Even knowing this, the oil and gas giants consciously decided to conduct massive and pervasive propaganda/lobbying campaigns. Their aim was to suppress, divert or subvert the rising popular awareness of fossil-fuel-led global warming.

As the IPCC scientist Julia Steinberger clarifies: “Fossil fuel companies are not energy companies. They are fossil fuel companies. They are tied, by their history, capabilities and culture, to fossil fuels. Their employees, going way back, are petroleum geo-engineers, petroleum economists and traders…

“They grew up in households and programs where fossil fuels were the name of the game, and their entire social capital and sense of self, sense of purpose in their work, comes from the heritage of supplying fossil fuels to the world.”

What’s powerful about this insight is that I think it explains a lot of the lurking resistance to the everyday consequences of a warming world and especially in Scotland.

READ MORE: Tory MP boasts that Scotland's oil & gas paid HALF of all UK energy bills

Many independence supporters contemplate a carbon-fuel-rich Scotland in two ways – both Thatcher’s fiscal squandering of it and Norway’s sovereign savings.

The psychological commitment to oil and gas, laced with the absurdity of Scotland’s immiseration at the end of its heyday, is a powerful mix of feelings.

I also think North Sea oil and gas maintained an industrial identity for parts of Scotland, long after the fall of the British Empire and the rise of globalised manufacture: an identity which has its gratifications.

Yet even Skidmore, the Tory MP, can see how fossil-fuel preeminence prevents a necessary transfer – that of their skills and machinery to the making of more renewable energy systems. So if fossil-fuel companies have baked-in imperatives, that’s why national administrations (bearing democratic mandates) have to be a countervailing force.

It’s why the absence of a Scottish national energy company stake in Scotwind was so disappointing – though Yousaf seems committed to the Scottish Government having a percentage stake in each of the next round of licenses.

It’s easy, when Putin’s sabre both rattles and gouges in Ukraine, to use “energy security” as an excuse to keep oil and gas in the mix – when his crimes could as readily justify a dash for renewables.

And it’ll be hard to resist siren calls for more nuclear power in Scotland, suppressing anxieties about the sector’s own dangers and insecurities, as long as they “keep the lights on”.

But nerves have to be held about the whole-system push beyond the carbon era. This will require significant changes in work and consumerism, as much as in energy supply.

The most recent SNP leadership contest was instructive in this sense.

It flushed out those who wanted to let business-as-usual in Scotland rip, rendering “wellbeing” considerations as a kind of flowery luxury item, reliant on hardcore commerce for its existence. In truth, wellbeing economics is partly about promoting those satisfactions that don’t just rely on status consumption, and the material throughout it generates.

This means relationships, public not private luxury, time for leisure and self-development.

In decarbonising our societies, that’s the part we citizens have to play. We’ll need to be helped by a good state (indeed, our state), as much as by our different spending choices. But these activities may involve the cultivation of an actual rose bank, then its distractingly named (and not to be disturbed) fossil-fuel namesake.

Petal to the metal, you might say.