THE news that the oil giant Shell has pulled out of the Cambo development is a huge blow to the project, though whether it is a terminal one remains to be seen.

A statement from the company said: “After comprehensive screening of the proposed Cambo development, we have concluded the economic case for investment in this project is not strong enough at this time, as well as having the potential for delays.”

Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, which is coordinating the Stop Cambo campaign, said: “The widespread public and political pressure is what’s made Cambo untenable. There is now broad understanding that there can be no new oil and gas projects anywhere if we’re going to maintain a safe climate.”

Philip Evans, oil campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “This really should be the deathblow for Cambo. With yet another key player turning its back on the scheme the government is cutting an increasingly lonely figure with their continued support for the oil field.”

In dark times a victory like this needs to be celebrated and nurtured and used as a stepping-stone to more.

READ MORE: If Cambo showed us anything, it's that the UK is holding Scotland back

For many young activists this could be the very first taste of victory, the idea that you actually can affect change. It also comes in the face of considerable obstacles.

The mainstream media is tethered to a framing of the debate as about environment versus jobs and is seemingly unaware of the scientific reality we are living in. The International Energy Agency, the global energy watchdog, produced a report in May saying no new oil and gas exploration and development should be conducted after this year, if the world is to stay within 1.5C of global heating, the target the UK made the focus of the COP26 summit.

Broadcast and print media regularly put out content that is little more than dystopian absurdism about how “new oil fields will fuel the just transition” and words that just don’t have any logical sense. And there is the physical distance about oil fields. You can’t “get at them” like you can with a pipeline or a road-building project.

The project may not be “stone dead” yet but it is still wounded by this development, and you can watch the political fall-out as political parties shift.

Yes the First Minister was dragged from a position of climate-disastrous “neutrality” to eventual opposition but she is also stymied by the fact that energy is a reserved matter. But her public opposition is significant and it does matter.

The Labour Party, at a UK level anyway are also changing. Ed Miliband said: “This is a significant moment in the fight against the Cambo oil field.

“It makes no environmental sense and now Shell are accepting it doesn’t make economic sense. Ploughing on with business as usual on fossil fuels will kill off our chances of keeping 1.5 degrees alive.

“Cambo carries huge risks for investors as it is simply an unsustainable choice. Shell have woken up to the fact that Cambo is the wrong choice.

“It’s long past time for the government to do so.”

​READ MORE: Cambo oil field plans on the rocks as Shell pulls out of investment

In terms of political movement we now have the strange phenomenon of the Tories and Alba now being the only political parties that support the development. Both are seeking a foothold from their supporters in the North-East, for a long time Alex Salmond’s fiefdom.

Alba mould themselves as of the old-school left, drawing on the symbolism of Scotland as an industrial nation, a nation of inventors and workers. This is a rich vein of social memory but it doesn’t trump climate reality nor Salmond’s personal ratings.

But the challenge of jobs in the oil and gas sector and how to transfer them is very real, and the mantra of “just transition” has been largely pitiful.

The languishing shipyard at Burntisland is testimony to the Scottish Government’s impotence and failure in this regard.

Sturgeon and her colleagues are making a calculated risk that they can make moves towards speeding up and intensifying the transition process, but they know and we know that they are not in control of the sector and its drivers.

So we are in a conundrum that a pivotal part of the story about how Scotland gains independence and sees itself as a modern viable entity is not something that Scotland itself has control over.

THIS is one of the reasons to celebrate the new development at Nigg. Nigg Offshore Wind (Now) will be the UK’s largest offshore wind tower factory, opening in 2023, it will create more than 400 full time jobs. The site, north of Inverness will be 450 metres long and will cover an area of 38,000 square metres, “equivalent to more than five football pitches”.

It’s big.

The project is a consortium of corporate and government bodies. The £110 million project is a joint operation between Global Energy Group (GEG), which has its headquarters in Inverness, and Spanish offshore wind tower manufacturing specialist Haizea Wind Group.

A GEG spokesperson added that construction is expected to start in January next year, with site preparation and commissioning expected to take about 18 months. GEG added that staff historically employed in the oil and gas industry, will have the opportunity to be re-trained and up-skilled at the Nigg Skills Academy.

The factory is expected to receive funding support from the Scottish Government via Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We need bold, collective action to tackle the global climate emergency, and the growth of our renewables sector over the next 10 years will be truly transformative, helping to deliver a just transition to net zero and a greener, fairer future for us all.

“We are delighted to financially support this cutting edge offshore wind towers facility, through Highlands & Islands Enterprise.”

This is a great development but there will need to be more.

Three other observations are worth making about the importance of the just transition’s role in the process of moving towards Scottish independence.

The first is that the expectation that all workers involved in oil and gas will be able to move seamlessly to high-skilled high-paid employment in the same location.

​READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Despite what Alex Salmond says, the case for Cambo makes no sense

Tens of thousands should in transferable skills as the whole sector is dismantled and shut down and replaced by the likes of Nigg Offshore Wind. But not all will. Tempering expectation about what just transition is and isn’t is essential to its success.

Second we need a variety of scale of approaches and development. Projects in tidal, onshore wind, pump-storage and solar don’t all have to operate at the scale of the Nigg yard. In fact creating a landscape of smaller community-based renewables is much more likely to mean that the Scottish Government has control over their developments. Smaller-scale energy projects also tend to be ones that can be community-owned and can give long-term resilience to energy prices as well as contributing to the circular economy.

Finally much of the defensive narrative about why we need to keep Cambo has been centred around some key myths about fossil fuel imports and exports. But always absent from these debates is how we are making rapid and deep cuts in our own oil and gas use. How are we facilitating people to make that change?

Where is the Energy Descent Plan for Scotland? The “just transition” is not just from jobs in the oil and gas sectors it is from our own use of fossil fuels. Stopping Cambo is a huge victory but it is incomplete without this element. A vision of what are we for as well as what we are against is needed now.