Chapter 5.2.1 Fossil fuels

Set an end date for fossil fuel production and use, and end all new licensing

Set an end date for fossil fuel use and commit to phasing out oil and gas production as quickly as possible, acknowledging that research by the Tyndall Centre found that fossil fuel extraction in producer countries, including the UK, would need to be phased out by 2031 for a 67% chance of staying below 1.5ºC global temperature rise.

UK Govt
Scottish Govt
Local Authorities
Emissions reduction
Behaviour change

Alongside maximising the transition to clean, renewable energy sources, the Scottish Government should adopt an unequivocal policy position against the granting of any new licences for offshore or onshore oil and gas exploration or extraction, and set a date for the most rapid possible end of fossil fuel production in Scotland.109 The Scottish Government must use the many devolved powers at its disposal to shift energy generation and energy consumption to as close to fully renewable within the same timeframe.

While powers over offshore fossil fuel extraction remain reserved, taking this position can exert influence at the UK level and show leadership beyond. The Scottish Government must also cease to support such activity through any devolved means available, such as enterprise funding, and Crown Estate licensing and planning.

Scotland needs a managed and just wind down of North Sea oil and gas production as quickly as possible in line with keeping the temperature rise to below 1.5ºC and an equitable approach to the UK’s historic responsibility for the climate crisis. Research by the Tyndall Centre concluded that oil and gas production in developed countries should end completely in 2031 for a 67% chance of the world staying below a long-term temperature rise of 1.5ºC.110

The Scottish Government should immediately start planning for a credible managed wind down as part of a Just Transition, with trade unions and communities fully involved in agreeing timescales. The Scottish Government must take an interventionist approach to ensure a Just Transition, utilising all powers at their disposal to prioritise the creation of decent jobs in renewables and energy efficiency, and put in place strong safeguards for impacted workers transferring from oil and gas jobs to renewables and other work.

The UK Government should end the approval of any new licences for oil and gas exploration or extraction, including the 22 new projects in currently licensed areas and the 100 for new fields. The UK Labour Party have recently pledged to rule out new licences.111

The Scottish Government should also maintain its policy ban on all forms of onshore unconventional oil and gas production, including fracking.

A clear stance against new oil and gas would provide strong impetus towards a Just Transition.

For further information:


Around 3% of global oil and gas production is used in the manufacture of medicines. There are alternatives to using fossil fuels which mean there is no need to prolong the life of the industry for this application, see, for example, Defossilization of pharmaceutical manufacturing, Green and Sustainable Chemistry, 2022,


Labour confirms plans to block all new North Sea oil and gas projects, Guardian, May 2023,

Version 1.0: September 2023

The contents of this document will be updated on a regular basis.