Scottish Greens are urging the UK and Scottish Governments to look at ways to protect employment in the North-East for the long-term - instead of a knee-jerk reaction to the dramatic fall in the oil price.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens and a member of Holyrood’s economy and energy committee, said:

"Of course, there is a lot of worry and uncertainty for many in the North-East, and both governments do need to put measures in place that will assist. But the important thing is that the short-term support must be designed to deliver sustained benefits, jobs that will last whatever happens to the oil price in future and as production reduces."

With the sharp drop in the price of oil putting jobs at risk and creating uncertainty over energy investment in the North-East, Scottish Greens believe the immediate focus of the governments must be to bring stability to the local economy with a long-term plan in place for transition towards a post-oil economy.

Green suggestions include:
- Addressing the skills shortage in renewables by funding transition training for workers in related industries.
- Basing new renewable energy-related civil service jobs in the North-East.
- Funding for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils to support economic development.
- Action to speed up planned upgrades to the national grid so that new renewable energy schemes can be brought forward sooner.

Greens also point out that significant elements of off-shore technology are not just applicable to oil, opening up diversification opportunities that should be exploited.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“It's essential that historic mistakes are not repeated as we respond to the low oil price. We should be looking to harness the revenues from the North Sea to invest in the clean technology that will sustain employment for generations to come.

“Greens want to see jobs created through public and community ownership of energy assets, so rather than cutting taxes for multinationals we should be disbursing revenues to local authorities and community bodies to invest in renewables and energy efficiency.

“Infrastructure sites like Grangemouth and the North-East’s large service sector can only be secured if we chart a course now and have Governments prepared to invest to support the move away from fossil fuels. We should consider public funding for economic development related to diversification, and we should properly address the problems of grid access to allow more development of renewables sooner.”

Patrick added:

"A key point in all of this is that a low oil price may change the climate for investment in renewables, so we need clearer signals from both Governments that they will back clean technology.

"The economics of oil tells us that the bulk of the world's fossil fuels are unburnable if we are remotely serious about climate change. The value of businesses and the wider economy will remain at risk as long as we continue to ignore the fact that these reserves are not assets but liabilities.”

Martin Ford, Green councillor in Aberdeenshire, said:

“The North-East could and should become a centre for development and production of renewable energy. So we need projects like the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen Bay to get up and running. The skills, the people and the revenue in the oil and gas industry must be seen as a foundation to begin building the new economy the region is going to need.”