The Oil and Gas Technology Centre in Aberdeen has launched a new initiative to help meet Scotland's net zero climate target of 2045.

The Net Zero Solution Centre aims to accelerate the development of technologies that will decarbonise offshore operations and develop the The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) as the world's first net zero oil and gas source.

Backed by major players, including BP and Shell, the new centre will work closely with the government, universities and other industries to monitor and improve the UK's offshore oil and gas emissions, and develop plans to move towards an integrated offshore energy system.

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Colette Cohen, CEO of the Oil and Gas Technology Centre said: “Our focus will be on developing technologies to reduce operational carbon emissions, working with other parts of the energy sector to create integrated solutions and repurposing infrastructure to accelerate carbon capture usage and storage and hydrogen."

The announcement comes as environmental campaigners laid out what they want Nicola Sturgeon to tackle as a priority in the annual Programme for Government, released today.

Funding more scientific research, support for vulnerable communities and a deadline for the ending of fossil-fuelled heating systems need to be actioned if Scotland has any hope of meeting its climate targets, say experts.

Friends of the Earth Scotland published a eleven-point proposal for their Climate Emergency Response Plan ahead of the Programme for Government's publication.

Director Dr Richard Dixon said: "This week’s Programme for Government is the Scottish Government’s opportunity to deliver on their fine words about the Climate Emergency.

"The Scottish Government must end its support for the oil and gas companies who want to drill every drop from the North Sea and instead plan a managed phase out of extraction and implement a just transition for those workers and communities currently reliant on this sector.

"Transport is Scotland’s most polluting sector and our bus sector has been losing millions of passengers in recent years. Making bus travel free for everyone would reduce climate and air pollution, slash congestion, save money in the health service, and ensure that everyone can access work, family and social activities irrespective of income.

"By committing to stop heating our homes with fossil fuels we’ll send a clear message that the era of fossil fuels is coming to an end."

John Bynorth of Environmental Protection Scotland (EPS) told The Herald the impact of climate breakdown on society's most vulnerable should be the government's first concern.

He said: "Our society is getting older and the gaps between the wealthiest and poorest show little signs of closing. Yet they are the very groups most likely to be harmed by climate change.

"This could mean people being forced from their rural homes by flooding, agriculture workers losing their livelihoods because crops have been destroyed and older people in urban areas suffering from poor health because they live in flats ill-equipped to deal with global temperature rises."

EPS are also calling for policies that cut car use in urban centres and the implementation of walking and cycling routes, as well as funding for domestic carbon-reducing technologies such as boilers and sustainable heating systems.

Charles Dundas, Chair of Scottish Environment LINK, said: "We’d like to see a strong Environment Act for Scotland and an ambitious and consistent approach to nature recovery. As a country we are also unnecessarily using three times our share of planetary resources.

"A well thought out circular economy can help address climate and ecological emergencies as well as the inequitable consumption of natural resources. However, to achieve this, we need strong targets, backed by legislation to drive change across our economy."

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Professor Deb Roberts, Director of Science at the James Hutton Institute, said: "Climate change will impact Scotland’s biodiversity, land use, food production, water management, and our villages, towns and cities. We need the Scottish Government to fund science which delivers new transformative ways of addressing the challenges which face us, and which ensures that policy decisions are made on the basis of strong scientific evidence.

"This includes research on how to support changes in culture as well as new methods, techniques and approaches to land use. We also need to better understand issues of community resilience and individual environmental practices, and ensure that the transition to a zero-carbon economy is ‘just’, that is, fair and equitable across Scottish society.

Calum Duncan, Head of Conservation Scotland at the Marine Conservation Society said: "We would like to see the Programme for Government fulfil commitments already made to introduce deep-sea marine reserves, properly protect Scotland's network of Marine Protected Areas, and commit to ecosystem-based fisheries management, that has the protection and recovery of the marine environment, including natural carbon stores, at heart.

"We are only just beginning to find out how important Scotland's seafloor habitats are for storing carbon. The top 10 cm of marine sediments store an estimated 1756 million tonnes of carbon, more than Scotland's peatlands, and it is estimated that our inshore marine protected areas store an equivalent of five years of Scotland's annual greenhouse gas emissions."