Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Salmond's oil policy lays bare the double-think in our system

When Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, said that Scotland should use the gifts of energy bestowed on it by the 'creator of the universe' to power its future as an independent nation he revealed the contradictory thinking at the heart of so many of our economic strategies. True he did mention wind and marine, but the focus was very, very clearly on the 50 years of oil and gas reserves that the North Sea may have left (continually declining but still significant). He also mentioned the coal for good measure.

The trouble is that Mr. Salmond is basing not only his economic policy but his vision for the future of Scotland on something that we all know we cannot continue to use. I don't want to get in to the ins and outs of Scottish Nationalism, but if we have not seriously reduced our oil consumption by 2061 then something has gone seriously wrong. Scotland, and the rest of the UK, and Europe are committed to CO2 cuts of 80%-95% by 2050. China, India, Brazil and the rest should also have peaked by then and stabilised, reducing global emissions by around 50%. The bottom line is that there should be far less demand for oil in the future than there is now, since that is how global emission reduction have to be achieved. Coal too should be almost unusable within the next couple of decades.

What we can probably expect is a spike in the next 10-15 years, followed by a general decline. In any case the idea that we can keep extracting oil for ever and selling it on is one we should not be basing anyone's future on.

Don't get me wrong, the SNP have done some good stuff for renewables, but their continual 'fetishisation' of oil and their desire to turn Scotland into an oil state does not bode well for the environment, or Scotland's future.