The First Minister and the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity met the Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities on 13 October. The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance was briefly discussed, along with other matters and initiatives concerning Scottish-Danish co-operation. In line with the Scottish Government’s evidence-based approach to policy development, we have committed to undertaking a programme of work and analysis to better understand Scotland’s energy requirements as we transition to net zero, and how that aligns with our climate change targets. We will consider the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance further alongside that programme of work and analysis and other sources of evidence that are provided.
I thank the cabinet secretary for that response. I am tempering my disappointment a little that the Scottish Government is not yet ready to join the alliance but, as the First Minister stated in a speech on Monday, transition from oil and gas
“is undoubtedly one of the most difficult issues we face” and I agree with her. Can we maintain that dialogue, not just during but beyond the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—with the members of the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance, particularly countries such as Denmark, which has had a challenging progression in transitioning its gas sector? There is much that we can learn from and contribute to the discussion with countries that are drawing a line in the sand and moving beyond oil and gas, while continuing to take their workers with them.
As I mentioned, any consideration of joining the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance would have to be consistent with our energy policy and our approach to energy policy. That will be informed by the work that we are taking forward to assess the need for oil and gas in the years ahead, as we transition to being a net zero nation by 2045. I also assure Mark Ruskell of our continued engagement with other nations, including the Danish Government, on energy matters, and we have planned engagements during the course of COP26, where we will look to explore further collaboration between Scotland and Denmark on areas of energy policy where there is a shared priority, particularly in the renewable sector. We are looking to build on the engagement that we have had with Denmark in recent years and make that a more formal arrangement in the years ahead.
The transition that has been referred to must be fair and managed for those workers. Answers to my written parliamentary questions show that the much-vaunted just transition fund and plan will not have any detail until a draft is produced in spring 2022.
Given the urgency with which the Green members want to shut down the North Sea and the impact of that on almost 100,000 jobs, how long will it be before the fund and the plan are finalised and the organisations receive funding?
As we have set out, in taking forward the north-east and Moray transition deal, we wanted to ensure that we shaped it in a way that reflects the needs of the community and the organisations that could benefit from it, and we are undertaking an engagement process in order to achieve that. However, given that the Scottish Government has committed more than £500 million as part of the deal, I am sure that the member will join me in calling on the United Kingdom Government to match that investment to ensure that a just and fair transition is achieved in the north-east. Going by the track record of his colleagues in Westminster last week in relation to the Scottish cluster, I am not holding my breath when it comes to their support of north-east Scotland in the years ahead.