New First Minister John Swinney has been warned nearly three in four of SNP voters want climate change to remain high on the agenda for the Scottish government.

The findings come just weeks after the Scottish Government announced that it would roll back on key climate targets and ended its power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens.

Ministers had been committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 75% by 2030.

But they have scrapped their annual and interim targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

They insist the long-term target to reach net zero by 2045 remains.

But Scotland has missed eight of its annual targets, making the legal obligation for the 2030 goal unachievable.

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The climbdown from a government which was one of the first in the world to declare a climate emergency, came on the back of a damning report from the government’s independent climate advisors — the Climate Change Committee (CCC) — which warned that the region’s 2030 target was “no longer credible.”

Reaching net zero means no longer adding to the total amount of greenhouse gases - such as carbon dioxide and methane - in the atmosphere. The Scottish and UK governments are bound to this target by law.

A poll of 2600 Scottish adults, conducted by Edinburgh-based research house Diffley Partnership for Uplift - an organisation campaigning for a fair transition away from oil and gas - found 71% of SNP voters want climate change to remain a key focus of Scottish ministers.

And two thirds (61%) of all Scots want the issue over dealing with climate change to remain a top priority for this government.

The Herald: North Sea oil

The UK government, which controls North Sea oil and gas policy, has been met with distrust from respondents across the nation, as three quarters of those surveyed do not trust Westminster to ensure the green transition is fair to Scotland’s workers and communities.

Two thirds (62%) of respondents believe that Scotland should grow its economy and tackle climate change at the same time, while 67% think that increased investment into renewables and energy efficiency measures will achieve an affordable and secure energy supply in the long-term.

A younger demographic would like to see more government intervention to accelerate Scotland's energy transition, with over half (52%) of respondents under 34 supporting policies, such as an end to oil and gas licensing, to encourage oil and gas companies to invest in renewable energy.

It also found that 67% of Scots felt that more investment into renewables and energy efficiency measures is more likely to result in Scotland having a secure and affordable supply of energy in the future, while 23% backed more investment into North Sea oil and gas drilling.

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Tessa Khan, executive director at Uplift commented: "This is a clear message to the new First Minister that people across Scotland are united in wanting his government to prioritise tackling the climate crisis and also see enormous potential for Scotland in the transition to clean energy.

"It is obvious that both Westminster and oil and gas companies – which together control the North Sea’s shift from fossil fuels – are currently not trusted to protect Scottish workers and ensure they benefit from the transition.

“These findings add weight to the chorus of voices now calling for a coherent transition plan, one that involves workers, their unions and affected communities.

"The oil and gas companies must not be allowed to just keep profiting from Scotland’s resources at the country’s expense.

"People want a shift to clean energy that’s in everyone’s interests – it's now incumbent on politicians to make it happen “New licensing is not the solution to the North Sea’s decline. Over the past decade, jobs supported by the industry have more than halved, despite the government granting hundreds of new licences in this period."

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It comes as one of the UK's biggest trade unions warned at the weekend that over £6.6bn needs to be committed over the next six years to save over 30,000 Scots oil and gas jobs by the end of the decade having hit out at Labour's policy of banning new licences for oil and gas projects in the North Sea following concerns over major job losses by 2030.

The biggest union backer of Labour is pushing Labour, the favourites to win any forthcoming General Election, to commit to its radical plan to spend £1.1bn a year over the next six years in investment in Scotland to create the transition from oil and gas to renewables - which she says will save 30,000 jobs and create 6,000 more by 2030.

Research from last year shows that of 154,000 UK jobs in offshore energy including oil, gas and renewables more than half (79,000) were in Scotland.

An Offshore Energy UK trade association industry analysis says that of £200bn that could be invested in oil, gas, wind, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage projects this decade - some £160bn still remains unspent.

And they say it could grow much more in the 2030s and approach £450bn by 2040.

But they say that "challenges holding this back are growing".

They warn that any windfall taxes on profits make it "very difficult to plan investments and raise finance".

The windfall tax on oil and gas companies was extended by a year in March - until March 2029.

The Energy Profits Levy, introduced as a response to soaring profits in May 2022, raised £2.6bn, external in its first year. When introduced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when he was chancellor in May, 2022, it was at 25%. It was increased to 35% in January.

BP made $13.8bn (£11bn) in 2023, down from the record $27.7bn in 2022. and Shell profits were $28.2bn (£22.3bn) in 2023, down from $39.9bn in 2022 - the highest earnings in its 115-year history.

The Herald:

Imogen Dow, Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns said: “Failing to take action on climate change was instrumental in the downfall of Humza Yousaf, so John Swinney’s team must listen to what the public want and get Scotland back on track to meet our climate commitments and bring down pollution in this crucial decade.

“Strong climate action that cuts fossil fuel use such as improving public transport, ensuring homes are well insulated and creating green jobs is popular, necessary and will improve people’s lives. Politicians should be sitting down with affected workers and communities to hear about their needs, to discuss a jobs guarantee as well as investing in a fully renewable energy system run in the public interest.”

“The public recognise that oil and gas companies are only interested in their profits and, unless they are stopped, will destroy our only home by continuing to drill for new fossil fuels. Oil industry bosses have proved time and again that they cannot be trusted whether that is in delaying the energy transition, ripping off households in their energy bills or lying about climate breakdown.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is fully committed to a just transition to a climate resilient and net zero Scotland by 2045 and the energy transition presents one of the greatest economic and social opportunities of our time.

“The Scottish Government’s focus is on meeting the country’s energy security needs, reducing emissions and delivering affordable energy supplies, whilst ensuring a just transition for the oil and gas workforce to a net-zero future as North Sea resources decline.

“Our draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan sets out a clear pathway to deliver on global climate commitments, achieve economic growth and a just transition that capitalises on the era defining opportunities that lie ahead. A finalised position is due to be published by the summer.”