WITH temperatures this week reaching unprecedented levels across the UK, no one can pretend anymore that climate breakdown isn’t coming. Yet the worst is still to come – and will hit those hardest that are least responsible for the climate crisis.

We know that in the next five years, we will likely breach the 1.5 degree target. And with the UK Government approving the Jackdaw gas field, the Cambo oil field back in play and a further 29 oil and gas projects in the pipeline, it will almost be impossible for the UK to ever reach its climate goals.

READ MORE: Tory U-turn gives permission for new gas field in ‘British’ waters

North Sea oil has long been a key argument for Scottish independence. Yes campaigners often mention how an independent Scotland could profit from its own fossil fuel resources, e.g. by using oil and gas money to build a sovereign wealth fund for its citizens like Norway, instead of allowing the UK to siphon off the profits.

This may tempt the SNP and the broader independence movement, but it ignores the fundamental reality: if Scotland is to take its climate obligations seriously, all oil and gas exploration needs to stop, and existing fossil fuel extraction needs to be phased out.

The endless pursuit of oil and gas also ignores that the fossil fuel industry has not been a blessing to Scotland. Many residents have not benefited from the oil boom, which privatised wealth in the hands of a few, and time and again, workers and communities have been sacrificed in the name of oil company profits.

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The National: Embargoed to 0001 Monday July 02..File photo dated 7/7/1988 of the wreckage of the Piper Alpha oil production platform that exploded killing dozens of workers on board. The 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster falls later this week, with those

Thirty-four years ago, the Piper Alpha oil platform exploded, killing 167 workers on board. Afterwards, operators only complied with recommended safety measures through massive pressure from the workforce. Over 35,000 workers in the industry have been made redundant in the last few years, with trade union RMT bitterly calling out the greenwash of governments and corporations promising an “energy transition” or a “green recovery” while they let Scotland’s manufacturing base rot.

Offshore workers, facing decades of boom and bust, know just as much as climate activists about the two-faced nature of the fossil fuel industry – and most would switch to working with renewables if they could.

As Kirsty Blackman (SNP MP for Aberdeen North) recently said at the Progress to Yes conference, oil and gas has not benefited communities in Aberdeen equally. While some parts of the city have profited, other parts have not. For example, the communities in Torry have a long history of being pushed aside to make space for oil and gas. Even today, Aberdeen City Council is threatening to take away St Fittick's Park, the last open green space in Torry, to build an “Energy Transition Zone” for the fossil fuel industry.

Anyone with two working brain cells knows that the Tory-led UK government is beyond redemption. But the SNP-Green government so far also failed to provide leadership on the future of the North Sea. Caught in constant stand-offs with the UK Government, there is no timetable to phase out oil and gas, no details to transition plans, and no ideas on how communities currently dependent on fossil fuel infrastructure can thrive after.

This is why there is a need for climate activists and this year’s climate camp in Aberdeen. Annoying as we may be sometimes, no one else is pushing this overdue conversation, no one else is challenging governments and corporations on their greenwashing and false solutions like hydrogen and carbon capture and storage – solutions that only serve the fossil fuel industry, not the climate.

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Off-shore workers and Aberdonian communities agree on many things with climate activists about what needs to be done: Scotland needs a fair and just phase-out of oil and gas, with remaining profits being used to invest in alternatives for workers and communities. As a recent report shows, a truly just transition can create more than three clean jobs for any North Sea Oil job at risk.

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Many climate activists know that a lot of these changes are impossible without independence from an ever more unhinged UK Government. Independence will not automatically bring the transformative change necessary for Scotland to take responsibility for its own oil. But it will enable us to think about what will be possible outwith the UK.

The SNP’s Jim Sillars once said during the first independence referendum: "BP, in an independent Scotland, will need to learn the meaning of nationalisation, as it has in other countries who have not been as soft as we have forced to be. We will be the masters of the oil fields, not BP or any other of the majors."

Sillars was right, but not in the way he meant: after independence, Scotland should take its oil into public ownership – and keep it in the soil.

Climate Camp Scotland is taking place in Aberdeen from July 28 to August 1. Join us to take the struggle for climate justice to the heart of big oil: https://www.climatecampscotland.com