UK ministers have been urged to end its part in “climate vandalism” by halting plans to extract fossil fuels from a North Sea oil field.

The Scottish Greens, who are in government with the SNP at Holyrood, have called for plans to develop the Rosebank oil field to be scrapped on climate grounds.

The Equinor plans for Rosebank would extract almost 500 million barrels of oil during its lifetime – with the site the largest undeveloped oil and gas field in the North Sea.

The UK Government has given the green light for new North Sea oil and gas licences to be granted, despite a 2050 net zero commitment.

The Greens are calling on the UK Government for a change of heart and sent a message that tackling the climate emergency is a priority.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon told to 'provide leadership' and oppose Rosebank oil field

Scottish Greens energy and environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell, said: “Rosebank is a climate disaster waiting to happen.

“We are already way past the point when we should have been moving away from oil and gas, yet Westminster is doubling down on it.

“2023 is a key year for our recovery and for our planet, and we cannot squander it. It must be a year of transition and change. That is what we are working towards with Scottish Greens in government here in Scotland, where we are investing in onshore wind and have banned new incinerators.

“Yet, with over 100 new climate-wrecking oil and gas exploration licences in the pipeline, and even a new coal mine in Cumbria, the UK government has been utterly unwilling to take the climate action that is so badly needed.”

He added: “Renewable energy is the cheapest and cleanest energy available. But we cannot realise our renewable potential as long as we are tied to a Tory government that is more concerned with the profits of its friends in the fossil fuel industry than it is with our environment.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon put under pressure by Greens to join Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance

“The climate vandalism has gone on long enough. This must be the year when Rishi Sunak and his colleagues finally do the right thing for people and planet.”

Ryan Morrison, just transition campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Climate science is crystal clear that we can't allow any new fossil fuel developments to go ahead. 

"Every new fossil fuel project takes us further away from a fair and fast transition for workers and communities currently reliant on the oil and gas sector.

"To address both the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis, we urgently need to reduce our reliance on volatile, polluting fossil fuels and build an energy system powered by reliable and affordable renewables.

"We will keep up the pressure on the UK and Scottish Governments to reject the Rosebank oil field, as well as challenging the greenwash of Equinor. 

"The tide is turning against fossil fuels, and Equinor has been forced to pull the plug on fossil fuel projects in the past, in the Great Australian Bight and recently on the Wisting oil field in Norway. We can and must stop them again.”

The Scottish Government is due to publish its long-delayed energy strategy when Holyrood returns from recess.

READ MORE: SNP ministers criticised for further delays to energy strategy

The document, delayed from last spring, will be the first updated energy policy from ministers since 2017.

It is believed the strategy will address the demand for oil and gas, including potentially when Scotland’s demand for oil and gas could end.

SNP Environment Minister Mairi McAllan has given her government’s strongest opposition yet to the further development of North Sea oil and gas.

The Herald: Mairi McAllanMairi McAllan (Image: PA)

She told MSPs that “we do not agree with the UK Government issuing new oil and gas licences”.

She added: “We don’t agree that is a viable answer to the energy cost crisis or to the climate crisis that we’re facing.

“The answer, in fact, to both of these is the rapid investment and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“We’ve also made clear our view that the proposed climate compatibility test from the UK Government is not fit for purpose and that before any development takes place, robust, stringent climate compatibility tests, including both domestic and international compatibility with Paris (Agreement) should be introduced.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for net zero, energy and transport, said: “Putin's war in Ukraine has highlighted just how important it is for Britain to have energy security.

“We've got world-leading standards and an industry that is fully on board with a careful transition away from oil and gas.

“But the Scottish Greens aren't really interested in energy transition — they just want to switch it all off now.

“That reckless, uninformed obsession puts tens of thousands of Scottish jobs at risk.

READ MORE: North Sea oil: Operators fined as part of emissions crackdown

“Inflexible ideology won't power homes and businesses struggling to keep the lights on.

“And concocted constitutional grievance won't generate any sympathy for Patrick Harvie's brigade in Europe's energy capital.

“Whilst the UK looks to licence oil and gas, Scotland looks to the expansion of offshore wind.”

Mike Tholen, sustainability director of Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), said the industry is committed to the transition to net zero but said gas and oil were essential to power the nation until then.

He said: “New developments like Rosebank are replacing older and higher emission intensity resources that are decommissioning rapidly. It would become part of the network of oil and gas fields in the North Sea that will help keep our nation supplied with energy while we build a greener future.”

A spokesperson for Equinor said: “Equinor is committed to net zero by 2050. Here in the UK we are building the world’s largest wind farm, Dogger Bank, and are planning some of the largest hydrogen and CCS projects in the world.

“Still, demand for oil and gas is not going away in the short term. The UK is a net importer of oil and gas.

"While we still need oil and gas, we aim to develop and operate projects such as Rosebank with the lowest possible carbon footprint while bringing the maximum value to society in the shape of UK investment, local jobs and energy security.”