THE SNP’S Net Zero Secretary has suggested the UK Government should reverse plans to expand North Sea oil and gas extraction amid claims levelled against the Tories of “climate denial at its worst”.

Reports suggest that Prime Minister Liz Truss to ready to allow up to 130 new exploration licences in the North Sea, despite warnings from the UN and the International Energy Agency that new fossil fuels projects should be shelved to limit global warming below irreversible levels.

Speaking at Holyrood, SNP Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson insisted that “unlimited extraction of fossil fuels is not consistent with our climate obligations if we are to meet our target of 1.5C under the Paris Agreement”.

He added: “It is not the right solution to the real cost-of-living crisis families are facing.

“Instead of licensing more fossil fuel extraction, the UK Government should be encouraging investment in renewables and supporting a just transition for our energy sector, Scottish households and businesses.”

Scottish Greens environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell, accused Ms Truss of having “taken a wrecking ball to climate commitments”.

He said: “The UK Government is once again pretending that they can drill their way out of the energy crisis while the world is facing unimaginable suffering from climate breakdown.

“From installing a fossil fuel fanatic as an energy secretary to making no reference to climate in her first speech on energy policy, this is climate denial at its worst.

“The development of the Rosebank oil field alongside Cambo and Jackdaw undermines both the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Pact and will do nothing to reduce energy bills that people are currently facing.”

Mr Matheson stressed that to better protect households from soaring energy bills, the strategy should be to “decarbonise our energy systems and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels”.

He added: “In doing that, we reduce our potential risk to the malign forces of people like Putin in the future.

“That’s why renewable energy is the most effective way in which to do that – not only in delivering cheaper energy for domestic and non-domestic users, but also it delivers energy security.”

But Conservative net zero spokesperson, Liam Kerr, accused the Scottish Government of harming the North Sea industry, as well as claiming that halting fossil fuels extraction would be harmful to the climate.

He said: “Without new investment in fields like Cambo and Jackdaw and indeed political support from the Scottish Government, production will fall off a cliff jeopardizing the just transition and the 90,000 Scottish jobs that will deliver it – and makes us reliant on environmentally-worse imports from regimes like Putin’s.”