SOMETIMES I wonder what it’s going to take to make the UK Government take climate change seriously. We’ve spent this miserable, sodden Scottish summer watching holiday destinations in the Mediterranean combust. The news is full of floods and typhoons. Records are broken every day. Across the world people are drowning and burning.

All of this is going to get worse. Beyond the headlines, a catastrophe unfolds as the ice melts and sea levels rise. Famine and more mass migration result. The climate emergency is here now.

Let’s just remind ourselves why this is happening. As the earth warms from the sun’s radiation, heat increasingly cannot escape because of layers of gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide.

There’s always been carbon dioxide. For aeons, the natural world has created and absorbed it. But in the past 150 years, more is being produced than can be absorbed. The principal cause is the burning of fossil fuels by humans.

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We have created the climate crisis. And we can fix it, but only if our political leaders are prepared to take hard decisions and apply a degree of honesty and common sense which has so far escaped them.

We know what needs to be done. Committees of experts all come to the same conclusion. We need to stop burning oil and gas. The UN Secretary-General has exhausted adjectives to describe the urgency of the situation. Yet the UK Government is promoting a policy programme that avoids doing what is necessary.

Let’s start with new oil and gas exploitation. Of all the utter bollocks talked by Sunak’s government, this takes the biscuit. Despite committing to a policy of reducing oil and gas, we’re told it’s okay to massively increase drilling and extraction in the North Sea. This is an affront to common sense. The dogs in the street know you cannot reduce something by having more of it.

To be clear, what is now being considered is massive. Bigger than before. The Rosebank oilfield contains an estimated 500 million barrels – about 10 litres for every man, woman and child on the planet. If burned it would produce 200 million tonnes of CO2. That’s the same as running 56 coal-fired power stations for a year – or the combined output of the 28 lowest-income countries in the world.

Some of the justifications are just mendacious. We are told that this will increase our energy security because we will not need to import gas from Russia or elsewhere. Nonsense. All the oil taken out of Rosebank by the Norwegian energy giant Equinor would be sold on the global market. Unless the Government was to nationalise the fields, it will have no control over where the output goes – or the price we pay.

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And then we’re told that if the UK does not allow this, some other country will, so it’s futile not doing it. This counsel of despair has been rejected by – among others – the Tory chair of the Climate Change Committee, Lord Deben, who noted “we can’t ask other people to restrain their production if we don’t do it ourselves”. Quite. Somebody must show international leadership in tackling climate change. Looks like it won’t be the UK.

Next up is carbon capture and underground storage (CCUS). Several years ago, I met the team at Edinburgh University doing pioneering work in this area. It’s a technology that is still unproven at scale, but one that deserves investment. At last, it seems the Government will back the development of CCUS in the North East of Scotland. But for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s be clear, the best way to capture carbon is to plant trees. Photosynthesis is how CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere. And one of the factors in rising CO2 levels is that these islands, like most of the world, have lost half the tree cover they used to have.

CARBON capture can never replace nature in sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. What it can do is catch at source the large amounts of CO2 created in industries such as cement and steel manufacturing, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. That could make some of these processes carbon neutral – a good thing.

What CCUS cannot be is a get-out-of-jail-free card for the oil companies. Regrettably, though, that seems to be how the Government sees it. It trades its commitment to carbon capture off against its intention to increase oil and gas extraction. Greenwashing, pure and simple. And it makes no sense. CCUS must be used to reduce carbon at source, not to excuse creating more of it.

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Another example of the nonsense of UK Government policy is biomass. When I first heard the term, I thought it was an innovative biotechnology. It isn’t. It’s burning trees. We’re not talking a few logs in your home wood burner here. Drax power station in Yorkshire burns 20,000 tonnes of trees every day. That’s a lot of forest being felled in the southern US, Estonia and other countries from where the wood is imported.

Drax pumps more than a million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every month. Incredibly, we are paying for it. It receives around £2 million every day from electricity bill payers. Why? Because in a perverse distortion of science, the Government believes this is renewable energy as the carbon released in burning is equal to the carbon used in growing the tree in the first place. That it takes 50 years to grow and 50 seconds to burn is simply ignored. So, we are subsidising a double whammy – a power station which reduces the number of trees and simultaneously pumps CO2 into the air. Go figure.

We can’t have a conversation about the deceitfulness of UK energy policy without discussing the Government’s obsession with nuclear power – the most expensive method ever devised for generating electricity. The Government claims nuclear is renewable. It isn’t. At current rates, there is maybe 90 years’ supply of uranium left – less if we use more. The Government claims it is clean. It isn’t. The toxic radioactive waste needs to be isolated from living things, including us, for centuries. The Government claims it provides energy security. It doesn’t. The UK has no uranium. Yet the UK Government, supported by its Labour opposition, is preparing to rapidly expand nuclear power at vast expense to the taxpayer.

British energy policy is deceitful – and it is simply inconsistent with a commitment to net zero.

Thankfully, though, there is an alternative. Eventually, if we can overcome the current existential threat to our existence, humanity will enjoy abundant clean energy from the sun above us, the wind in our hair and the waves around our shores.

More than most countries, Scotland is blessed with renewable energy sources in abundance. We just need the political and financial commitment to develop them at a scale never before seen. That commitment won’t come from this UK Government, nor it seems the next one.

So, perhaps more than any other area of policy, the need for Scotland to have control over its energy production makes a compelling case for our political independence.