SCOTS overwhelmingly want the UK to ditch a treaty which allows polluters to sue governments for millions to frustrate eco policies, The National can reveal. 

The deeply unpopular Energy Charter Treaty gives companies the power to sue governments outside of their national legal systems for millions, sometimes billions, of pounds if they enact policies that limit the use of fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Firms can sue not only for what they have already spent on projects but on the basis of what profits they might have made in future.

The Dutch government is currently being sued by German companies RWE and Uniper for €1.4 billion and €900 million respectively for phasing out coal-fired power stations and earlier this year UK oil company Rockhopper successfully sued the Italian government over a project cancelled as a result of Italy banning offshore oil drilling.

In the end, Rockhopper won £210m, an amount six times higher than it had spent because it claimed for hypothetical future profits.

Extended licences for North Sea oil and gas fields, like Cambo, in UK waters would continue to be protected under the legal framework so if a future government wanted to cancel the site, it could be sued.

And on Tuesday a key meeting will be held which could determine the treaty’s fate, sparking calls from north of the Border for the UK to duck out of the agreement.

Polling information from Global Justice Now found that only 12% of Scots wanted the UK to stay in the treaty, while 66% said the agreement is outdated.

And 73% said it is a problem if the ECT clashes with climate goals while 65% agreed that it is an issue if it clashes with government policies or decisions made in Parliament.

In recent weeks there has been a spate of announcements from countries that they are leaving the treaty - Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia have all said they will quit.

Activist group Global Justice Now (GJN) says that if the UK Government was to be sued through the treaty's mechanisms it would be “the taxpayer who pays”.

Commenting on the situation, Liz Murray, head of GJN’s Scottish campaigns, said that “country after country” has realised that “the Energy Charter Treaty is a huge threat to the urgent action that governments must take to move away from fossil fuels”.

READ MORE: Scotland must play its part in tackling the climate catastrophe

She added: “Instead, this outdated, climate-wrecking treaty hands more power than ever to the big polluters. But the UK still remains a member, and until it leaves then Scotland’s ability to transition away from fossil fuels and to green energy is also under threat.

“Our polling found that the Energy Charter Treaty is deeply unpopular here in Scotland. Other countries are waking up to the risk and taking action to protect the planet and their people’s future. We call on the Scottish Government to speak out about the concerns of the Scottish public and to urge the UK Government to leave the treaty.”

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said that the treaty had been a "big barrier towards the international climate action that is needed".

He continued: "It has now reached the point where the treaty is incapable of being reformed. The UK is choosing to stay in a dinosaur treaty that gives far too much power to fossil fuel companies.

"We don't have time to waste if we are to make the vital transition from fossil fuels to renewables. We are working with the Scottish Government to deliver the change that is needed with the powers we have, but we can't allow that progress to be blocked by anti-climate treaties that are only making things worse.

"With countries from across Europe withdrawing from this terrible treaty, it is time for the UK to do the same."

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.