The following article by Mike Small was first posted by bella caledonia. It highlights the failure of either the UK government (the main culprit) or the Scottish government (despite paper commitments) to follow a policy of Just Transition in the face of climate breakdown. It also points to further Unionist attempts to break the SNP/Green coalition in order to open up new oilfields and greatly increase fossil fuel production.
GRANGEMOUTH NO MORE
The announcement of the closure of Grangemouth oil refinery as early as 2025, with the loss of hundreds of jobs, represents a severe blow to the Scottish economy. It also throws into sharp relief the complete absence of a viable, urgent Just Transition programme, the precarity of a nation unable to cohere a (re) or (de) industrialisation strategy, the absurdity of key aspects of the economy being in the hands of private companies and the utter failure to step up to or respond to climate breakdown.
Responding to the announcements the Future Economy Scotland Co-Director Miriam Brett said:
“Managed effectively, the transition to net zero has the potential to create more new jobs than will be lost. Where is the plan to secure a thriving future for the communities supported by Grangemouth Refinery? Where are the commitments to harness and develop the existing skills of workers in the transition, and the proactive policies to reskill and retrain workers?
“Decarbonising Scotland’s economy will involve a major restructuring of our labour market. Today’s announcement demonstrates how crucial it is that impacted communities – particularly workers and trade unions – are given a meaningful stake and say over decisions that affect them to ensure the costs and benefits of decarbonisation are fairly shared.”
“The development also underscores why the transition to net zero should not be guided solely by shareholder decisions but instead should be coordinated effectively, with the shared goals of creating a new generation of well paid green jobs, raising living standards, and tackling deep-rooted inequalities.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland just transition campaigner Rosie Hampton said:
“Workers at the refinery and the wider community at Grangemouth deserve better than how they have been treated today by rich bosses in distant boardrooms. Escalating climate breakdown and the move away from fossil fuelled vehicles means that the transition away from oil and gas is essential in the coming years. Today’s announcement is, sadly, the inevitable consequence of the Scottish Government’s repeated failure to grasp this reality and to put concrete transition plans in place with workers.”
“Scotland’s energy future must see our lives powered by renewables that are owned and operated in the public interest.”
Others were less considered.
Alex Massie, who has severe problems with climate reality writes ‘Grangemouth is a reality check for Scotland’s politicians’: “Politicians prattle on about a “just transition” without ever specifying what this actually means.”
This is simply not true. He must know this.
“It is an aspiration and nothing more than that, a collective crossing of fingers in the hope that something will turn up to make it some kind of tangible reality. Dirty and climate-ruining old jobs will magically become clean, climate-saving, new jobs.”
Again this is just completely untrue. The definition of ‘clean’ renewable energy is unquestionable and has been for many decades.
“Like many nice things, this is little more than fantasy; a form of wishful thinking so divorced from reality that it may only be sustained by a kind of collective agreement that delusion is more comfortable than the truth.”
The real delusion here is of course is the world in which nothing is done about our climate catastrophe.
This oration floats fact-free in the pages of The Times, without reference to any of the research or plans for a Just Transition. It’s not clear if Massie doesn’t know any of this or just doesn’t care. He goes on:
“Mutton-headed politicians who support Just Stop Oil protests and oppose the granting of new exploration licences in the North Sea now deplore the closing of an oil refinery. You can pick one of these positions but you cannot sensibly choose both. It is a feature of our Alice in Wonderland politics, however, that so many Scottish politicians incant green pieties while also deploring actions which accelerate the decarbonisation of the Scottish economy they have spent years demanding.”
“This is Tartan Cakeism of a kind even Boris Johnson might struggle to swallow. Petroineos’s decision to shutter the Grangemouth refinery may not be directly linked to the Scottish government’s green ambitions but it serves as a warning nonetheless.”
“May not be directly linked” is doing a lot of heavy-lifting here.
A few facts seem to have eluded the Times columnist.
Energy is not devolved.
This is happening under the Union.
Over at the Scottish Daily Mail Graham Grant is doing the same ‘SNP’s ‘hostility’ to oil industry blamed as Scotland’s only refinery to be axed – The Mail‘ – he writes: “Opposition leaders condemned the announcement and blamed the SNP’s green energy plans, including its ‘just transition’ agenda, for the shutdown and hefty job losses.”
The hysterical reaction of the Unionist scribes to these job losses is to conjure a tissue of lies to be weaponised against the SNP-Green coalition which they loathe and to ignore the fundamental reality facing us all, of imminent and catastrophic climate breakdown, a reality which has apparently eluded them.
It’s a remarkable contortion of the most basic facts and an extraordinary act of deluding not just their readers but themselves about what’s going on. As the playwright Peter Arnott puts it: “Once again, the stripping back to nothing of Scotland’s producing industries WITHIN the Union is harnessed as an argument FOR the Union.”