THERE has always been a touch of cognitive dissonance, when climate chaos is threatening, over the opening up of new fossil fuel frontiers.

Exploiting more of the earth's carbon resources when we know that to stay safe most of them will have to stay in the ground has never looked smart.

That is why this weekend's moves by the SNP and Labour to ban onshore gas developments - at least for a while - are to be welcomed. Crucially, as both parties made clear yesterday, the bans encompass coalbed methane as well as fracking for shale gas.

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There are live proposals to mine coalbed methane near Falkirk and in Canonbie, and the prospect of fracking applications around Grangemouth from the chemical company, Ineos. Neither SNP MPs' backing for a UK moratorium of between 18 and 30 months nor Labour's conditional ban if they get elected mean that these plans are dead - but they are dying.

If the significant policy shifts by Scotland's two biggest political parties do end up causing coalbed methane and fracking to be abandoned in Scotland, it will not only be the climate that will benefit. Communities across the country worried about the health and environmental risks will also breath a sigh of relief.

What's now important is what the Scottish government - as opposed to SNP MPs in Westminster - decides to do. It is promising to strengthen its "precautionary approach" to onshore gas, which would be progress, but it's still unclear whether or not it will give the go-ahead to specific proposals.

The issue will have to be tested soon, because Scottish ministers need to determine whether the application to mine coalbed methane near Falkirk will be approved. It provoked over 2,500 objections, and was the subject of a public inquiry.

Coalbed methane, as our story today on arguments in Canonbie shows, does seem to have the backing of at least one SNP minister, Fergus Ewing. But the hope is that he will end up in the minority, and the Scottish government will accept that digging up new fossil fuels would be a mistake.

That would show that the government is serious about tackling climate pollution, and help mend the damage done by its failure to meet three annual climate targets. And it would give hope, not just to local communities, but to future generations.