Rory MacLure is from Aberdeen and currently lives in Edinburgh where he’s studying to get his Masters in Global Crime, Justice and Security. He’s been a member of the Scottish Greens since 2013.
It has become clichéd to say that environmental and energy policy is at a crossroads. Frankly we passed the crossroads long ago and ignored every opportunity to change direction. Despite mounting and damning evidence of the dangers posed by continued fossil fuel usage, as well as the benefits of alternatives, we desperately cling to our fossil fuel habit. Our destructive addiction to fossil fuels will only lead to more and more intrusive and perverse methods of obtaining them, taking us even further away from safe, clean and secure alternatives. Kicking the habit requires government led changes to the energy market, which can only be achieved through a collective desire for change.
The first change requires the reduction in production and usage of fossil fuels. The means of procuring oil and gas have mutated over the years, becoming increasingly intrusive and risky, both to our environment and to individual health. The pursuit of dwindling resources through increasingly dangerous and complex techniques is unsustainable, particularly given the increasing resource requirements involved. Fracking is the poster child of these developments and illustrates the lengths to which our dependency upon fossil fuel resources has driven us in order to meet these demands. The environmental dangers of fracking and the effects of fossil fuels are well documented: the risk of ground water contamination, the massive use of clean water, the emissions of both extracting and using shale gas, and more. Like any addict we have sought new ways to maintain our cravings, regardless of how destructive the habit and the methods of maintaining it. The time has come to draw a line in the sand, to say enough is enough, that we must change how we meet our energy needs. Rather than funding and relying upon increasingly bizarre methods of feeding our habit, we must begin to limit and reduce our reliance upon fossil fuels. The Scottish Green Party is dedicated to permanently banning fracking in Scotland. By supporting this policy we send a clear and definite affirmation of our desire for change and our commitment to the protection and preservation of the environment. This is, however, only half the battle.
Limiting the production of fossil fuels is only the beginning. This would bring us to a stop, but we must begin to move in another direction. We must seek alternatives. Investing in renewable technologies and green jobs is essential to creating a viable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Such an alternative will not materialise while market forces can continue to rely upon easy, but harmful, oil and gas. Businesses will not invest in green development unless there is consumer demand and consumers will not be attracted to these technologies unless they are affordable and viable; this leaves us in a stalemate. Overcoming this impasse necessitates government led direction of the market by investing in green sector jobs and encouraging the growth of a sustainable energy market. The expansion of such a market will attract the innovation and talent required to create and improve these technologies. Such innovation is essential in facing the challenges of the future. Creating and expanding the market encourages the competition and innovation needed to attract consumers. Such innovation allows these technologies to become smaller, more efficient, more reliable, but most importantly cheaper. It was government subsidies that allowed oil companies to expand and innovate into the industry it is today; why can’t the same strategy be applied to sustainable, eco-friendly options? This will create jobs and attract further investment and business to Scotland. The resources and talent needed are abundant in Scotland, they just need direction. The Scottish Green party has promised to invest in green energy and to create over 200,000 jobs in this sector. Such an investment would drive the innovation needed to create a sustainable and viable green energy sector.
Our reliance upon fossil fuels is unsustainable and harmful; it is essential that we reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels and expand and improve our renewable energy capabilities. The arguments for such a shift are by no means confined to environmental benefits. Reducing our reliance upon such resources also diminishes our reliance upon the volatile and unreliable oil and gas market. The recent fall in the oil price perfectly illustrates the dangers of relying so heavily upon these markets and the significant risk of tying so much of our national infrastructure to these markets. Our reliance upon oil and gas significantly removes our ability to manage our own energy production, with control often resting with unstable and undemocratic states. Renewable sources of energy provide a stable and reliable source of energy for Scotland as well as secure sources of employment. Investing in green technology encourages the pioneering of new ideas and technologies from Scotland, attracting investment and providing a model for a stable, secure and environmentally conscientious energy production for nations of the world to follow. Evolving our energy infrastructure will not only protect our environment, but also provide greater security for Scotland.
While Scotland has the talents and the resources necessary to achieve them, these ideals will not be achieved overnight. By voting Green this May you will be voting for a more stable and secure Scotland. Banning fracking and investing in green jobs is just the first step towards breaking our dependency upon harmful sources of energy and strengthening Scotland’s economy and resilience. We went past the crossroads decades ago and we’re running out of time to turn back and try again. The time has come to choose the path that will lead us to a more secure and prosperous Scotland. By voting Green this May we will be taking that first step.