When Nicola Sturgeon published a letter to Boris Johnson this morning asking for a review of the controversial Cambo oil field, she was widely lauded by climate activists and scientific voices alike.

It has been suggested that the move was the first result of the cooperation agreement with the Scottish Greens currently in the final stages of discussion. Whatever the motivation, it offers a hopeful glimpse of how the party of government and the country might look beyond oil.

The campaign to wind down Scottish oil has been going since the 1990s when climate science began to produce reliable models of the severe impact carbon and other greenhouse gases would have on our future.

This week’s sombre report from the IPCC - the UN body that combines thousands of studies and experts to produce a global map of climate change over the next hundred years – has given the movement new energy. As activists are keen to point out, nobody can claim ignorance of what burning oil means or deny the science behind it any longer.

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We are seemingly set to miss the 1.5 degree target for global heating that was widely seen as desirable and are headed towards 2 degrees of warming. Anything over 2 degrees is considered to have serious implications for the entire planet, Scotland included.

In Scotland the black gold that the SNP envisaged bankrolling independence from the 1960s has led to some enduring myths about its environmental credentials, myths shared by the Conservatives who are keen on oil for different reasons.

North Sea receipts helped to bankroll the dole queues after the Thatcherite economic reforms of the 1980s and now the UK Government are eying it as a way to offset Brexit and the cost of Covid-19 spending. The SNP meanwhile continue to pledge full support for the oil and gas industry and need the votes of their Aberdeenshire heartlands to keep them in power.

This is all part of a larger sleight of hand on the part of Scotland and the UK. Emissions from North Sea fossil fuels are not currently counted as part of Scotland’s carbon budget as they are burned elsewhere. It’s a neat trick, also played by Norway across the water, that allows you to project sustainability at home whilst letting the oil and gas flow. As Scotland looks to cast itself as a sustainable leader ahead of the Glasgow climate talks it is keen to make sure Cambo and the North Sea fields are out of sight and out of mind.

READ MORE: Cambo oil field: Nicola Sturgeon told to 'stop hiding behind Boris Johnson' and oppose plans

Turning down oil wealth is a hard thing to do, but as the IPCC report shows it is up to rich countries in the global north to use some of their existing wealth to develop new technologies and renewable economies. This includes not repeating the mistakes of the first oil boom and making sure that the wealth from wind, wave and tidal energy ends up in the hands of communities and the public purse.

It is ultimately up to the UK Government whether Cambo is allowed to proceed or not, but the science weighs heavy on the conscience of politicians in Holyrood and Westminster alike. What happens in the next ten years will be critical to fighting climate change and creating a brighter future long after Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon are just names in a history book.

Dominic Hinde is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow and a former European journalist. He researches media narratives of climate change and journalisms’ approaches to energy and environment.