An oily future shames the independence movement

by | 23 Aug 2023

Voices are rising inside the independence movement; burn baby burn, they say. They're wrong - and they must be challenged vigorously.

It is really shocking to see the sudden surge in people willing to say ‘pump all the oil you can – forever’, not because it is coming from nut-job US Republicans like Donald Trump but because it’s coming from the independence movement.

This shames us. It shames Scotland. If the people advocating ‘pump until we burn’ think this is clever, someone needs to take them out the back, put a cold towel over their heads and explain that the UK already has a mental fringe outfit run by Laurence Fox and the independence movement doesn’t need to become another.

I do not want to pull my punches here. Some of these are people whom I have no massive desire to attack, but when they’re taking a turn quite this wrong it would be utter hypocrisy to stand by and let this pass. Again, anyone saying ‘we can burn baby burn and tell the plebs something about Carbon Capture and Storage – they won’t know that it doesn’t work’ should be utterly ashamed.

So let me give you six of the million reasons why this is suicidal idiocy. But before I do, let me state the most straightforward – climate change is the issue of our era and anyone who does not grant it the seriousness with which it deserves must not be taken seriously. They must be challenged at every opportunity until they recant their position publicly.

First, this is fucking stupid if you’re Scottish. Sorry to pester you with silly-old science but while Scotland is in an enviable situation in terms of surviving climate change, that is conditional on one thing. It is 100 per cent conditional on the Gulf Stream surviving. If the Gulf Stream weakens too much or collapses completely, it will plunge Scotland into cold.

Really cold. Potentially Siberia cold. You think a degree of global heating is causing chaos? Wait until you see what a sudden drop of Scotland’s average temperatures by five degrees and more does to us. We’re getting complacent – we think because we’re better positioned than most, this isn’t coming for us.

Well it is, and two weeks ago alarmed scientists found clear evidence of a sharply weakening Gulf Stream. It could collapse in 2025. The year after next. Invest in socks and mittens people – if the Oil Barons get their way, Scotland is going to freeze.

Of course, we’ll starve first if the global food systems break down – which they’re well on their way to doing. A very large proportion of our diet is grown in places where aridity is about to wipe out fertility and the scramble to replace that food will create a spiral. Those who think climate change is someone else’s problem are worse than Little England Brexiters.

No-one is going to go ‘ah, I didn’t support independence yesterday but now they’re all going on about oil again like they did for 50 years I’ll totally change my mind’ – but there are demotivated young people who ain’t coming out of their houses for this shit

Second, not only is this stupid if you want to live a comfortable life in Scotland, built into the case is what is basically a knowing mistruth. We’re back to Carbon Capture and Storage again. I’ve been on a mission for a number of years to try to make sure no-one can say they didn’t know it doesn’t work. Because it doesn’t work. If you mean ‘capture 100 per cent of the CO2’ it will never work. The physics don’t work. It’s a con job.

In fact I’ve seen content coming from independence movement figures which are identical to the misinformation propaganda of the big oil companies. It’s all lies. There is only one truth; every barrel of oil we take out the ground will either create horrible pollution or climate change. End of story.

Third, it doesn’t help one little bit with independence. I mean, if oil wins you referendums, what happened in 2014, back when it was socially acceptable to lionise oil? Try the same thing again and get different results, eh?

And its totally unnecessary. If we were independent tomorrow, oil revenue would pour in for probably two more decades as we wind down what we’re currently doing. ‘Just stop oil’ isn’t accurate. The fight is ‘just stop any more oil that slows down decarbonisation and keep it to the amount we need to get us from here to there’. And that’s not two weeks.

So worried about the finances of an independent Scotland and think oil (which everyone else knows goes up and down in value all the time) is the solution? Fine. But we do not need to drill a single extra hole in the North Sea to get that effect. If you’re clever you shut the fuck up about ‘more oil’ and just accept that the 20-year transition off oil sees us comfortably past a short-term referendum.

Fourth, this is strategically idiotic. By miles and miles the core demographic support for independence is people under 50, so if people over 50 (this stuff isn’t coming from youngsters) think they can win them over with ‘more oil’, they are delusional. Meanwhile if someone could show me these conservative old people I keep getting told will start supporting independence if only we are more morally compromised, could you do so soon? Because I’m starting to think you’re literally making them up.

No-one is going to go ‘ah, I didn’t support independence yesterday but now they’re all going on about oil again like they did for 50 years I’ll totally change my mind’. But there are demotivated young people who ain’t coming out of their houses for this shit.

Fifth, the argument that since others are burning the house down, we might as well get our lighters out too is fatuous beyond belief. Yeah, or we could phone the police. We could stop this. We could lead people away from self destruction. And our self-interest would barely lose out even if we did. Because oil advocates either don’t understand what is going to happen next or they are being dishonest about it.

In the last five years the oil industry has become a pariah. People are burning and drowning and starving and dying all over the globe. It will get worse and worse. Oil is going to become more and more and more toxic politically with each year that passes. What do you think will happen to an oil-belching Scotland in 15 years?

Can’t you see that a new generation might well start banning Scottish artists from international festivals based on their commitment to climate destruction? You think the world is going to look at a rich country like Scotland actively doing nothing to decarbonise the planet and they’re going to shrug?

I’d quite like Scotland to be, well, not a global pariah after a decade or two of independence. If we’ve granted the disgusting, profiteering, shitbag oil corporations 50-year licenses for oil exploration in the North Sea, we absolutely deserve to be shunned, shamed and banned.

Oil corporations have profiteered on a short-term lack of supply of oil globally and they have absolutely fleeced every human living on this planet as a result

Sixth, did I mention that the oil corporations are the dark heart of pure evil? This whole thing is kicking off because GERS showed an uptick because of oil revenue. And why did that happen? It’s all because of your winter energy bills which made the oil corps filthy rich. The oil advocates are asking you to celebrate your impoverishment. Think of it this way – if we just taxed you all by what the oil companies robbed you for this winter, we wouldn’t have a deficit.

Oil corporations have been more responsible for global poverty this year than anyone. They have profiteered on a short-term lack of supply of oil globally and they have absolutely fleeced every human living on this planet as a result. Inflation? It’s mostly them. Really. Legitimate inflation is overwhelmingly because of energy costs which is because of oil corporation profiteering.

And we want the indy movement to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporations which are already hated and will be hated more and more with every passing year? Scotland, independent from England, a colony of ShellBPExxon. Hurray.

The independence movement does not need to become a 1970s tribute band to win independence. This is all yet one more false shortcut that we’re only talking about because the Scottish Government and the wider independence movement (other than Common Weal) has done nothing about GERS other than moan.

We don’t need to grant more oil licenses to fix the GERS problem, we need some competent work from the Scottish Government. We don’t need these vile oil companies to create a renewables revolution, we need independence and a government with some vision and courage. Scotland doesn’t need oil for a day longer than a wind-down period if it builds an economy, and it will struggle and fail as an independent country if it doesn’t do that anyway.

This is utter, utter guff from start to finish. It is being promoted by people who either need to understand that climate change is real and oil and gas extraction is the problem, or they need to get out of the way of a generation who actually understands what is going on in the world.

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