MSPs have pledged to work with the oil and gas sector to transition to net zero – treating the climate crisis as a “critical priority”.

During a Holyrood debate on the climate emergency, Tory net zero spokesperson, Liam Kerr, criticised the Greens for a “knee-jerk, cliff-edge" strategy to transitioning the North Sea oil and gas sector away from fossil fuels.

Mr Kerr told MSPs he was “terrified” at the prospect of the Greens sharing any power with the SNP, claiming the party’s plans are “not realistic, not practical”.

He also said that the Greens, who oppose the use of carbon capture and storage in contributing to cutting emissions, would put Scotland’s aim to become a net zero nation by 2045 at risk.

A Labour call for drawing up a Circular Economy Bill as "an urgent priority” and for the climate emergency to be included in the school curriculum was agreed.

SNP Environment Minister Màiri McAllan, confirmed the Scottish Government’s energy strategy will be published next spring.

Net Zero Secretary, Michael Matheson, said “this will be a decisive and defining decade for us all”.

He added: "The journey to net zero will transform every aspect of our lives - how we live, how we work and how we travel.

“I want Scotland to seize the opportunity that becoming a net-zero society presents, growing our economy and enhancing our natural environment.”

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The Scottish Greens are in talks with the SNP about a formal co-operation agreement, which could allow Green MSPs to become ministers in future.

Mr Kerr said: “I am worried about the Greens.

“Actually, like workers, businesses and families across the North East of Scotland, I’m terrified of the consequences of them ever getting near the levers of power with their knee-jerk, cliff-edge intentions.

“Because those workers heard (Scottish Greens co-leader) Lorna Slater saying last year it is her ambition to shut down the oil and gas sector within two to five years.

“Despite oil and gas still supporting 100,000 jobs, providing three-quarters of the UK’s energy needs and meeting 70% of demand last year.”

He said the Greens’ ambition for absolute zero emissions was not realistic, saying carbon capture and storage would be an important step towards net-zero.

Ms Slater said there is broad public support for winding down the North Sea industry, referring to a recent survey on the issue.

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She said: “According to the survey almost two-thirds of Scots support the creation of a concrete plan to wind down the existing extraction of oil and gas in the North Sea.

“So the approach to wind down the industry has wide public support, I’m more than happy to talk about a specific timeline that would make the member happy.”

She said the Scottish Parliament has already committed to supporting people in the industry into green jobs.

Ms Slater also called on the UK Government to rule out new licences for oil and gas exploration.

Mr Matheson’s motion committed to working across parties “to restore nature and become a net-zero nation”.

Scottish Labour’s Monica Lennon said: “In a few months’ time, the eyes of the world will fall in Scotland when we welcome the Cop26 conference to Glasgow.

“This will be a crucial milestone, commencing the decade where Paris Agreement measures take effect and where significant emissions cuts are required to limit global warming to one-and-a-half degrees.

“Scottish Labour would like the Scottish Government to lead by example and we’ll support every endeavour towards that.”

Speaking for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton said transport has been Scotland’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and reducing that “has to be one of the main missions of this Parliament”.

He added: “We don’t have a chance of meeting our climate change targets unless options for transport are truly, rapidly and radically decarbonised.”

READ MORE: Waste incineration soars by 400% under the SNP

Conservative MSP Maurice Golden criticised the SNP’s record on tackling waste, pointing “a catalogue of failures to meet their own targets”.

He called for a “step change in approach” and highlighted that the Scottish Government has still not met its 2013 household waste recycling target.

Mr Golden also pointed to Scotland’s capacity for incineration of waste “skyrocketting”, which he said left Scotland as “the ashtray of Europe”.