Transport workers, members of the RMT working for ScotRail and Calmac Ferries protested outside Bute House – the first minister’s official residence today. Several speakers stressed that cutting more than 300 services and closing ticket offices at many stations is unacceptable and particularly so only two months after politicians at COP26 were pledging to tackle the climate crisis. Trains and ferries are an essential part of Scotland’s transport infrastructure and critical to a zero carbon future.
Retired oil worker and XR Scotland activist Neil Rothnie responds to the recently published XR strategy for 2022. Neil argues that the strategy is weakened by not making specific reference to the North Sea when North Sea Oil and Gas remains at the heart of both the UK and Scottish governments energy strategies.
Begin a planned rundown of North Sea oil and gas production without delay.
That’s a real ‘demand’ and is directed at the UK oil industry and the UK and Scottish Governments.
North Sea oil and gas is a major contributor to the greenhouse gases that are the UK’s contribution to global heating.
So why does the Extinction Rebellion UK Strategy 2022, on the fossil economy, make no mention of North Sea oil and gas?
The new 2022 strategy document talks instead about End(ing) The Fossil Fuel Economy in general, and specifically demands No New Fossil Fuel Investment, No New Fossil Fuel Licences, and an End (to) Fossil Fuel Subsidies Now.
But – End the Fossil Fuel Economy – is not a demand. It’s a slogan! And the three specific demands could be met in full today without making a jot of difference to the climate catastrophe that’s unfolding.
Because without one more penny being invested in the North Sea, without one more licence issued, and without a penny more in public subsidy, everything is already in place to ensure that North Sea oil and gas fields will, unless someone puts a stop to it, produce more than the UK’s share of global greenhouse gases that will heat the atmosphere to way over +1.5 degrees, and trigger the irreversible climate change that leads, according to the science as I understand it, to mass extinctions of life forms on the planet.
A similar scenario is set to be repeated all over the world. In Norway, the Gulf of Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the China’s coalfields, etc etc. So, it’s a global problem that has to be addressed in each locality.
In the UK, we have a responsibility to begin to choke back North Sea oil and gas production. In the US the responsibility to end fracking and wind down hydrocarbon production from the Gulf of Mexico falls, in the main, to Americans. In Russia to Russians . . .
We must have the confidence that the peoples in each and every other fossil production zone will act at least as decisively as we will. We can talk to them and encourage them, but above all we need to lead by example. The main enemy is at home. It’s our responsibility to fight our corner.
And the biggest support we can give to the masses of people in the global south who face climate chaos earlier and harder than us, is to end North Sea oil and gas production.
One massive implication of “disappearing” North Sea Oil and Gas from a UK strategy for fossil fuels is that you also “disappear” the North Sea oil and gas workers and their rights and their responsibilities.
Oil & gas production is going to go. Sooner rather than later if the climate and our grandchildren are to have a chance. Oil workers must not be shafted like the coal miners were before them.
If you are an oil and gas worker. a climate activist, a trade unionist – if you live in a community that hosts the industry and the workers – or if you’re young and fearful for your future, put your name to our demands*.
- No more redundancies of oil and gas workers.
- Workers whose jobs are threatened as the oil industry is wound down, must be furloughed until they are retrained and re-employed.
- North Sea wind jobs must be made to pay North Sea wage rates.
*These three demands are still in draft but will form part of a new Scot.E3 campaign in 2022.
Solidarity with rail, ferry and energy workers, members of the RMT union who are protesting on Monday 31st January in Edinburgh. Assemble 11am on the Waverley Station concourse.
This is the RMT press statement
28 January 2022 – RMT Press Office
Transport and energy workers to protest on 31 January in Edinburgh against betrayal of COP26 promises
Marking the three-month anniversary of the beginning of the COP26 Climate Conference – on 31st January – transport and energy workers are to march to the office of the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to protest at the betrayal by the SNP / Green Government of commitments made to move towards a greener Scotland.
The protest by rail, ferry and energy workers who are members of the RMT will be the start of a concerted campaign to increase the pressure on politicians as the country approaches the local government elections in May.
The charge sheet against the Scottish Government includes:
• Instead of cutting climate change, the SNP/ Green Government is cutting rail services including rail ticket offices hours, timetables and infrastructure while the cost of rail travel is increasing at four times the rate of using a car.
• Instead of securing our vital lifeline ferry services in the public sector, ministers appear to be paving the way for privatisation where profits will be put before people and climate.
• Instead of helping guarantee the livelihoods of energy workers, ministers have sold Scotland’s renewable energy resources on the cheap to the likes of BP and Shell without securing supply chain jobs.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“COP26 started only three months ago but already the lofty rhetoric about fighting climate change seems a distant memory as we witness a betrayal of ambitions by the SNP / Green Government to move towards a greener Scotland.
“Instead of cutting climate change the Government is cutting rail services and ticket offices, threatening the privatisation of our lifeline ferry services and doing far too little to protect the livelihoods of energy workers and the vital service they provide.
“As the country approaches the local government elections in May this protest will be the start of a concerted campaign to persuade politicians to protect these services and jobs which are so vital to our local communities.”
Yesterday (27th January 2022 saw the launch of a new report weighing up the relative merits of hydrogen and heat pumps for domestic heating. The report was produced by the Imperial College Energy Futures Lab. It concludes that while hydrogen will have a role in decarbonising some industrial process it is not appropriate for domestic heating.
The research finds that hydrogen infrastructure is not going to be viable for domestic heating applications at scale for at least the next 10 years and therefore, the Government should focus on deploying solutions which are available now including energy efficiency, electrification through heat pumps and heat networks as the main focus for its strategy.
Richard Hanna one of the reports authors says:
… hydrogen has potential to help decarbonize challenging sectors like industry and shipping but right now there is not a strong case for using it to here in our homes. In the near-term government should focus efforts on improving heat pump products and their affordability and supporting industry to rapidly scale up production of technology in the UK
Scot.E3 argues that current UK and Scottish government support hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas is deeply misguided and is unlikely to be effective in cutting carbon emissions. This really matters since domestic heating is responsible for around 23% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The UK is currently very dependent on the use of natural gas for domestic heating. Around 85% of homes use gas. One consequence of this heavy dependence is the ratchetting up of levels of fuel poverty because of the massive hike in gas prices that has occurred over the last few months.
The report is well worth reading and includes a really useful and extensive list of links to further reading. Butven if you don’t have time to read the report in full, do read the policy recommendations. These highlight the need for public sector procurement, for planning, for rapidly increasing the rate of heat pump installation starting from now and critically for immediate investment in training to create a skilled workforce able to carry out this work.
This is the video of the meeting at which the report was launched.
Trask, A., Hanna, R. and Rhodes, A. The Future of Home Heating: the Roles of Heat Pumps and Hydrogen, An Energy Futures Lab Briefing Paper, Imperial College London Consultants. Available at: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/energy-futures-lab/reports/ briefing-papers/paper-8/
Simon Pirani is the author of ‘Burning Up – A Global History of Fossil Fuel Consumption’* – Simon recently spoke on Fossil Fuel Systems at one of. series of events discussion issues around ecosocialism. The video of his introduction provides a very clear and comprehensive account of how fossil fuel systems are embedded in modern capitalist economies and of the challenges of breaking from an economic system based on these fuels.
Simon blogs at the People and Nature website which carries lots of articles that will be of interest to followers of Scot.E3.
* we have a small number of copies of Simon’s book available at the reduced price of £11 (postage extra) – email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d be interested in a copy.