SCOTTISH Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has dismissed calls to ramp up oil and gas production in the North Sea in response to soaring fuel prices linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Instead of increasing production as the Scottish Tories are demanding, Harvie said the conflict in Ukraine, and resulting “volatile” prices, showed the “dependence on fossil fuels as the vulnerability that it is”.

Speaking at the Scottish Green Party conference in Stirling, the Scottish Government minister said that “Vladimir Putin has spent years ensuring Russian gas is a key element to his power play across Europe”.

He went on to claim that “Putin’s ambitions are founded on abusing the strategic value of fossil fuels”.

As a result, Harvie said that “the next big question the world must ask of itself right now” was if countries and governments “will accept that this must be a moment to rapidly accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels”.

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He hit out at the Tories, saying they were “shamelessly” using the conflict in Ukraine to “justify expanding oil and gas exploration and production”.

Adding that this was happening “barely months” after the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Harvie added that for the Conservatives “any excuse will do to ignore the climate science which should be keeping them awake at night”.

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But the Green insisted that adopting this “extreme fossil fuel ideology would throw our future away” and would “surrender the cost of living crisis to volatile global gas market”.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens conference: Lorna Slater issues challenge to Priti Patel and Boris Johnson

He stated: “The horrific events in Ukraine will test the world’s ability to resolve conflict with economic power instead of military power.

“But it will also test our willingness to treat our dependence on fossil fuels as the vulnerability that it is.”

Harvie, the minister for zero-carbon buildings in the Scottish Government, also used his conference address to announce further action to help households struggling with rising fuel bills.

The Home Energy Scotland advice service is to be expanded, he pledged, in a move which could see 12,000 more households a year given information about how to make their properties greener and easier to heat.

More people will also become eligible for help from the Government’s Warmer Homes Scotland fuel poverty programme.

Harvie told the conference: “Next year a total of £336 million will go to tackling fuel poverty and energy efficiency in Scotland, almost £12m in two schemes alone, Warmer Homes Scotland and our Area Based Schemes, tackling fuel poverty at a neighbourhood level.”

Grant limits for the Area Based Fuel Poverty Schemes will also be upped, he announced, “because costs have risen over the last two years of the pandemic and Brexit”.

The Green said: “Our movement has always known that tackling the climate crisis and tackling poverty go hand in hand.

“Building a greener future means leaving no one behind.”