HERE’S a brutally honest fact: There is no future for Scotland’s oil and gas industry – and an industry with no future is an industry with no future jobs.

That is a difficult thing to hear if you are one of the more than 70,000 people whose income is dependent on the sector, but on a planet facing an unparalleled climate crisis and in an industry built around a finite resource, it is a reality that we must accept.

Holyrood politicians who pretend that they can indefinitely protect and grow jobs in the North Sea do a great disservice to those who will be most affected by its conclusion. And the more time that passes without real action, the more it’s going to hurt when we do finally rip off that plaster.

It’s like demanding job retention for the crew of the Titanic while third class passengers are already treading water; like it or not, the clock is ticking inexorably toward a definitive end for this industry that, if we’re being honest, has done more to line the pockets of oil barons than it has the people who built and bled for it.

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Yet that does not mean disaster for those working in the sector. With a well resourced and just transition away from north sea oil, and toward green technology, the skills and experience of the industry can be manoeuvred onto a path that does have a future – for both the workers and the planet alike.

But first, our elected representatives need to wise up and stop playing rhetorical games around what comes next for the industry; particularly if Scotland truly wants to be a leader in renewable and green technologies.

That’s how we protect jobs and energy security. Not by sticking our heads in the sand over the finite nature of oil extraction, nor over the pain and misery that we’re committing future generations to should politicians and lobbyists continue to advocate for profit over people and planet.

As a country positioning itself as not only a leader on climate change, but also as an independent, internationalist nation in waiting, we need to accept that there can be no further investment in North Sea oil and gas extraction. That’s what Labour has reportedly committed to doing; an undertaking so necessary and of it’s time that I fully expect Keir Starmer to U-turn on it almost immediately.

The Labour leader’s announcement late last week was not without dissent in the ranks however. Two senior Scottish Labour MSPs – Pauline McNeill and Michael Marra – have privately pushed back on the proposal, claiming that it would threaten thousands of jobs in the industry – the thematic equivalent of arguing against the introduction of vaccines to protect the jobs of plague doctors and grave diggers.

Industries don’t last forever. What matters is that technological advancement and social progress does not leave entire communities behind, as happened under Thatcher and successive Conservative governments who had no plan for handling industrial decline – or who actively sought to punish the working class for standing up to them during the miner’s strikes.

This denial of reality is not limited to the Labour party by any means. The SNP has plenty of voices that advocate for the economic and environmental self-harm of maximum oil and gas extraction too, as do other dinosaurs of the Scottish political scene. And as for the Tories, well … You can probably guess.

A vision of a future Scotland that continues to grow and invest in its oil and gas sector is one that lacks any ambition or care for this nation of ours. And more, the obstinate refusal to accept this challenge is, to me, reminiscent of the No campaign’s doom mongering in 2014, whose entire mantra boiled down to ‘we just can’t do it’.

The future, independent Scotland I want to see is one that treats its workers and environment with care; not one that pushes them further and further out to sea until, inevitably, painfully, abandoning them among the roiling waves.

Even those Labour politicians who disagree with us on independence must surely understand that, whether as part of the United Kingdom or as our own nation, the issue of oil is not one that can be ignored or equivocated against.

They might as well be arguing with the rain for all the good it will do to stop the downpour.

The journey to net zero and to justly transitioning away from such a significant economic sector is not a simple one, even if it is a necessary one.

Unfortunately, a lack of political vision is something that we have come to expect in recent years, from both our own parliament and the one forced upon us. I hope that on this issue, our elected representatives will understand in time that this is not a challenge that can be ignored.

Change must come. The question is whether we use the time and resources we have now to build the future we want – or wait, and get stuck with whatever one is left for us.