AN SNP activist taking the UK Government to court in a landmark case over oil and gas subsidies said she is “happy to give them a punch to the stomach”.

Kairin van Sweeden, from Dyce, Aberdeen, is one of three ­plaintiffs taking Business, Energy and ­Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to court after the High Court ruled they could go ahead last week.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday National, the 54-year-old ­executive director at Modern Money Scotland told how she sees the UK government’s oil and gas strategy as “corrupt” and that their policies are “killing us”.

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Alongside fellow plaintiffs Mikaela Loach, a 23-year-old climate justice activist, and Jeremy Cox, a former oil refinery worker, the trio want a declaration from the courts that the state-owned Oil and Gas Authority’s (OGA) new strategy is unlawful. OGUK works under instruction from BEIS.

They say it encourages the ­production of oil and gas which is not economic for the UK and conflicts with its legal duty to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

And Van Sweeden has a personal investment in the issue. Her parents David Robertson, who sadly died in 2019, and mum Lorna, 76, were both heavily involved in the oil and gas industry in the 1970s and the creation of the Offshore Industry Liaison Committee, a trade union set up after 167 workers died on the Piper Alpha platform on July 6, 1988.

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Van Sweeden said: “I was brought up in Aberdeen and my dad worked offshore and he was a shop steward, and he had to fight for the folk that he worked with and he was blacklisted for his troubles, you know, so I’ve got nae fondness for the UK Government in general and I think they’re very corrupted and they blacklisted my dad.

“If I can give them a punch to the stomach I’m really happy to do that. I really don’t like to see burning koalas and crispy kangaroos. I’m just at the stage where anything I can do to help this cause I’ll do it.

“When I was a child in the 70s I was watching John Craven’s newsround and they were saying then London will go under water, and here it’s happening right now.

“It’s not like they didn’t know, they knew, but we keep ­electing the wrong people, they keep ­doing the wrong things and this is the result. Now Kentish Town is under water.”

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The court case has been backed by the Paid to Pollute campaign, and the campaigners argue that OGA’s interpretation of its legal duty to “maximise economic recovery” of oil and gas doesn’t take into account the billions of public cash spent supporting the industry.

In 2020, Shell paid negative $99.1 million in tax to the UK, meaning that during the pandemic the UK Government paid out that amount to the firm. The UK was the only country where Shell operated and didn’t pay tax.

The company then paid their CEO $7m, and announced plans to cut 330 North Sea jobs.

The problem, as Van Sweeden sees it, is that the UK Government has the power to fix the problem tomorrow, but they have no interest in doing it.

She explained: “I think probably there’s a lot of nonsense about we can’t afford not to do this, that is complete nonsense, and this is also what I’m trying to teach with ­Modern Money Scotland, the government is not currency constrained.

“It could transition people out of the oil industry any time, because you’ve seen with the pandemic the government as well as being the ­lender of last resort, can be the ­employer of last resort.

“That’s always been possible in a country when you have a free ­floating currency.

“They’re killing people with this, I guess that’s the main thing, we can afford to do something about this right now. This is an existential threat.”

Van Sweeten believes too much stock is given to deficit spending, and the impact this will have on ­future generations, when the reality is the climate is a much more pressing ­ issue.

She said: “When people say our children are going to pay the debt, they’re not. What our children are going to pay with are no bees, no food, and everythings going to be under water. That’s how they’re going to pay if we don’t mobilise the population to start doing something about this now.

“All those people that are ­unemployed right now could be working on a green new deal, we could be doing things, houses need to be insulated, there’s so many things we could be doing and while we’re learning all that we export our knowledge south, we help the Global South and do what needs to be done.”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that oil and gas exploration has to stop this year in order to keep within the 1.5°C target set by the Paris Agreement.

BUT, with the Cambo oil field, off the coast of Shetland and co-owned by Shell and Siccar Point Energy, currently awaiting permission from OGA to start drilling for 800 million barrels of oil, Van Sweeden thinks drastic action is needed.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson’s COP26 spokesperson Allegra Stratton, below, was criticised after suggesting the public could help tackle the climate crisis through “micro-steps” such as not rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

The National:

Placing blame on the individual, Van Sweeden said, is not the way out of this crisis, She said: “That’s a very ­typical ­conservative liberatian way of ­looking at things.

“It’s the complete denial of sometimes you need big government ­action and when they’re so wedded to that libertarian the market will sort everything thinking, they are very wedded to it and we have to get them unstuck from it, but I fear that we can’t ­because they’re so wedded to that philosophy.

“I think court cases are the only way to deal with this government right now.”