Climate campaigners have penned a letter to First Minister Humza Yousaf calling on him to “not only match by go further” than Keir Starmer’s commitment to block future North Sea oil and gas developments.

The activists, made up of five coalitions and 34 climate, fuel poverty and international justice groups, have told the First Minister that the transition away from fossil fuels is an opportunity for the “political leadership that is needed to build a fairer and more equal Scotland.”

The letter comes ahead of a Holyrood debate today on fossil fuels, with the campaigners urging the Scottish Government to prioritise planning and action that delivers a just transition away from fossil fuels for workers and communities currently employed by this industry.

Read more: Warning SNP ministers 'back-sliding' over oil and gas position

Mr Yousaf has stressed the importance of the climate crisis while at the same time moving to reassure oil and gas workers they will not be left “on the scrapheap” by the energy transition.

The Scottish Government has held a consultation on draft plans to back accelerate the move away from fossil fuels in the North Sea towards renewables.

Future oil and gas licences are reserved to the UK Government, but UK Labour leader Keir Starmer has pledged that he would halt any future exploration if he becomes prime minister.

But SNP Government Energy Minister Gillian Martin has claimed Labour is being “tone deaf” with its proposals.

Last year, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that the proposed oil field at Cambo in the North Sea should not “get the green light”, but Mr Yousaf has refused to give a view on future developments.

Previously SNP Net Zero Secretary Màiri McAllan said the Scottish Government did not agree with new oil and gas licences.

But since becoming a senior member of the Scottish Government’s Cabinet this year, Ms McAllan said it would be “wrong” to stop future activity in the North Sea.

Read more: SNP ministers urged to commit to fully clean energy system

The letter also stresses that "workers in the oil and gas industry already have a plan for a just transition, they just need political support to make it happen" and that to ensure secure affordable energy, Scottish ministers must use their powers to “accelerate well-planned domestic renewable energy production and improve the energy efficiency of our buildings.”

The chair of the UK Climate Change Committee Lord Deben has also spoken out in support of the Labour position saying that it "should be the common view of all parties."

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns Mary Church said: “Every new barrel of oil worsens the climate crisis and takes us further away from a fair and fast transition to renewable energy.

"The Scottish Government must be willing to stand up to oil companies and commit to ending oil and gas extraction as an essential part of planning for a just transition for workers and communities.

“Oil and gas workers are ready to lead a rapid and fair transition away from fossil fuels, and have a blueprint to create an energy industry that protects workers, communities and the climate.

Read more: SNP's just transition chief not consulted over oil and gas strategy

“Ministers must set an end date for oil and gas this decade to provide certainty for the sector, enable workforce planning and make it clear that investing in renewables is the only choice for our energy future.”

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, highlighted how support for oil and gas expansion will “undermine Scotland’s global climate leadership”.

He added: “It’s estimated that one person will die of hunger every 28 seconds across East Africa this month because of a drought that would not have happened without climate change.

“A just transition for those working in the oil and gas industry in the UK is essential, but this transition must also be much faster to avert further devastating global impacts. That starts with blocking all new oil and gas extraction – no ifs, no buts.

The Scottish Government’s leadership on global climate justice will only remain credible if it strongly opposes the UK Government granting any new licences for climate-wrecking fossil fuels.”

Dylan Hamilton from youth climate group Fridays for Future, said: "The Scottish Government has talked the talk, but it's time to walk the walk.”

He added: We have allowed the climate crisis to worsen and now people are already suffering all over the world.

“We can't afford to take our time, it is a fact that to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown we must end oil and gas extraction. You can't make deals with physics, and millions of lives and the future are on the line."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Decisions on oil and gas exploration and licensing remain reserved to the UK Government.

“Through our draft energy strategy and just transition plan, we have set out a clear pathway to deliver on global climate commitments while capitalising on the enormous opportunities offered by becoming a net zero economy and ensuring we take workers with us on our journey to net zero.

“With so much at stake, it is vital that we take an evidence-based approach to the energy transition.

"We have consistently called for the UK Government’s climate compatibility checkpoint to be strengthened and recently consulted on our own oil and gas policy position, as set out in the draft energy strategy and just transition plan.

"The consultation received more than 1,500 responses and we are currently carefully considering the feedback received.”