SUBSIDIES for oil and gas exploration are “reckless” and should be abolished, the Scottish Greens have said.

The party’s co-leader Patrick Harvie criticised the UK Government for funding the search for fossil fuels and called for the money to be invested in renewable energy alternatives.

Describing the oil and gas industries as being “in their dying days”, he argued that the climate emergency demanded that fossil fuels remain in the ground.

Last month, the Government announced plans to allow oil drillers to keep exploring the North Sea for new reserves if they pass a “climate compatibility” test. A joint investment of up to £16 billion aimed at supporting 40,000 North Sea jobs was offered in return for an industry pledge to cut its carbon emissions by 50% by the end of the decade.

Ahead of a campaign visit to Aberdeen, Harvie said: “The UK Government is absolutely reckless in its decision to invest further public subsidy in exploration for new oil and gas. We are witnessing climate breakdown all across the planet, so we don’t have time to ignore the problem.

“The facts are clear, there’s far more oil and gas in known reserves than we can afford to use. If we care about our own survival, and about the rest of the living world around us, we need to leave it in the ground.

“Workers need certainty and alternative jobs, not to be left dependent on an industry in its dying days.”

Calling for a “just transition” to renewable and low-carbon energy, he added: “Other parties have suggested that a transition is under way, but you can’t call it a transition if you keep throwing money at an industry until it closes. Our future and the future of jobs depend on starting the transition to low-carbon alternatives now so we don’t repeat the mistakes seen in mining communities, Ravenscraig or Silicon Glen.

“Scottish Greens have plans to invest in renewable energy, public transport, warm homes and restoring Scotland’s natural environment. This will create 100,000 jobs and kickstart the just transition.

“Our future depends on it.”

When the exploration funding and compatibility test for licensing was announced, Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “When it comes to fighting climate change, we must all stand together.

“Through our revolutionary North Sea Transition Deal, we will harness the power and skills of Scotland’s mighty oil and gas industry to power the green industrial revolution, turning its focus to the next generation of clean technologies the UK needs to support a green economy.

“Doing so will ensure the survival of thousands of Scottish businesses that rely on the oil and gas sector, while protecting and creating tens of thousands of Scottish jobs.”