Dirty Oil, the Union’s Paradox

Drenched in Big Oil the millionaire PM you didn’t elect is imposing a sociopathic climate agenda onto your children for profit and a highly dubious political return.


Misplaced political expediency and shameless personal gain. As the London Economic site reported: “Sunak’s family firm signed a billion-dollar deal with BP before PM opened new North Sea licences.”


While Sunak’s actions will no doubt have him remembered as a climate criminal when justice comes, he is not alone. The backlash against the movement for survival is strong and can be seen everywhere. It is inter-generational warfare played out daily on your streams and channels, on your timeline and in your head. Gaslighting that Rosebankx100=NetZero is Elite Orwellian-ism on steroids.

But that’s where we are. This is the crunch point and that is why you are seeing everywhere – not as you might expect or hope an almighty unprecedented and never-seen-before global effort for massive change – but instead a reactionary backlash against any ecological policies. As George Monbiot writes: “While environmental scientists and activists fight for the very survival of the habitable planet, the fossil fuel, meat and internal combustion industries are fighting for their economic survival. Either they are regulated out of existence or human society across much of the world will fail. We cannot all win: either these industries survive or we do.”

Flying in to Lie

The Tories have a long history of arriving in Scotland, lying, then disappearing, but Rishi Sunak took this to new heights. In this case Sunak;s 400 mile journey was calculated to have cost over 6,000kg of carbon emissions. Here he arrived to announce the Acorn Acorn carbon capture and storage project (a joint venture between Shell UK) – which amounts to an act of massive misdirection. Incredibly Sunak managed to put in a sentence that new oil & gas drilling licences for the North Sea ‘would help the UK achieve net zero carbon emissions’.

This nonsense is easily debunked …


… but it shouldn’t have to be. It is Doublespeak. We have known for a very long time the severe climate consequences of any new fossil fuel extraction.

Things are moving fast. As early ago as May 2021 the International Energy Agency (IEA) undertook a report at the request of the UK government. It said: “Development of new oil and gas must stop this year and no new coal power stations can be built if the world is to meet the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”

We know all this, yet here they are. Lying on that scale can’t be done alone. Here is the Prime Minister accompanied by the Secretary of State for Scotland, who looks like a badly rendered AI character and to his right the NPC known as Douglas Ross.

Here’s a politician so useless he collapses under scrutiny by Good Morning Scotland.

But the sharp-eyed reader will have noticed another weird aspect to the routine Tory lying, other than, of course the degenerate apocalyptic nature of their oil bonanza.

In the space of nine short years, the North Sea Oil has gone from being a diminishing resource (even a burden as some had it) to an asset so powerful it could transform the whole of Britain.

Oil we were told was gone or useless.

We were told this over and over again, relentlessly. If anyone pointed out that the vast resource could power an independent Scotland, in much the same way as Norway had, they were treated to howls of Unionist disdain and contempt.


Now the very same resource that had disappeared forever is back in business.

Scotland is simultaneously too poor to be independent but rich enough to “power up Britain.” That’s quite a paradox.

How could a resource be so transformed  in such a short period?

Of course Unionists’ will claim it’s not really ‘Scotland’s Oil’ it’s Britain’s. Scotland, as in so many other respects doesn’t really exist. It/we have been erased. And they’d be right.

Socialists’ will claim it’s not really ‘Britain’s Oil’ it belongs to Shell and BP & Co. And they’d be right.

Ecologists’ (like me) will claim it’s not an asset you can build a country around in 2023. And I’d be right.

We never have argued for a petro-chemical Scotland. The economic case for independence is not, and cannot be based on a death- industry. The case for independence must be based on a future-focused economy, one predicated on survival and entirely new ideas of what energy actually is and what an economy is actually for. But still it’s worth pointing out the rank-hypocrisy of Unionist lies about North Sea Oil.

How is this level of mendacity and disinformation even possible? How tf are we in the middle of this anti-ecological backlash? Some of it, it’s true is because of bad framing by green parties, and some of it, it’s true, is because of a misconception of the environment as a middle-class concern. But this doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because of the array of right-wing commentators, influencers, editors and gate-keepers who have a uniform hatred of the Scottish Green Party (here) or the climate agenda more generally.

“We’ve had enough sanctimonious lecturing from the Greens” froths Iain Macwhirter over at Murrdoch’s Times.

“Ditch the Greens. Drop the identity politics. Bring back Kate Forbes. Be the party of economic growth.” spouts Stephen Daisley over at The Spectator.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s new Green allies are dangerous extremists. The Scottish Greens are for poverty. They are not fit to govern” blurts Alex Massie over at The Times.

Or “As a capitalist Sunak has spotted a gap in the climate market and he intends to corner it. The PM – along with the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who wants to replace him – have cottoned on to the fact the majority of voters, while sympathetic to a cleaner environment, are now waking up to the enormous costs to them in trying to achieve it, with no guarantees that we can” as Jim Spence splutters incoherently over at The Courier.

Top Trolls

Climate author Assaad Razzouck has chartered the mass of trolls spinning around his (and your) timeline. He’s listed the ‘Top 10 Disinformation “Tag Lines” Peddled by Big Oil Trolls (courtesy of Big Oil + politicians, PR firms, lawyers and consultants on payroll)’.

Here they are:

1. “Oh but oil and gas are XX% of Primary energy”

the “Slightly Sophisticated” oil troll

We don’t need to do a 1-for-1 replacement of fossil fuels. Clean energy will allow us to reduce primary energy consumption by two thirds

2. “You need oil and oil derivatives to make wind turbines”

the “Desperate” oil troll, probably worried (if a person, they rarely are) that renewables are taking over

3. Climate change is a “WEF agenda” or “UN Agenda” to create a world government

the “Conspiracist” oil troll: They’re right of course, I just checked my Illuminati manual, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Fox News 

4. “actually it’s the sun and the rotation of the earth”

the “Strawman” oil troll

Large variations in Earth’s climate were caused by many natural factors. We are, however, massively accelerating climate change through man-made emissions

5. “CO2 is good for plants”

the “Naturoil” oil troll

6. “no crude oil or gas = no mobile phone or internet” etc

the “Bored” oil troll: can’t be bothered except with the obvious, all while of course ignoring history’s trajectory

7. “humans are responsible for tiny % of CO2”

the “It Wasn’t Me” oil troll

Translation: CO2 only makes up 0.04% of the atmosphere

8. “Burning of coal continues in China and India”

the “What About China” oil troll

In reality, China is incomparable on climate action.

9. BS / LoL/ Liar/ etc.

the “Lazy” oil troll: takes up space (while creating noise and muting conversations) by spouting insults

There are lots of these lazy oil trolls, and they the bot factories are out to simply overwhelm the climate movement with a pandemonium approach

10. “We did this” or “we bought the oil” etc

The “Deflect-the-Blame” oil troll: It’s the consumer’s fault

Fact: Big Oil popularized the carbon calculator to create this narrative and backed this with over $2bn in propaganda-spending since 2004

The desperation of late-capitalist climate denialism is clear.

Characters like Massie, Macwhirter, Spence or Daisley try to shape public opinion but such disinformation only flourishes in a media ecosystem that is also inhabited by trolls, think-tanks funded by dark money and professional propagandists.

Scotland as Carbon Dump

In a constitutional context North Sea Oil’s changing fortunes are incredible, but the environmental agenda being attacked here is of fossil fuels over our future. It is an inter-generational war being perpetuated through the pages of your newspapers by Scotland’s commentariat, unblushing editors and unthinking press barons.

One of the things these writers and publishers think they are doing is ‘sticking up for the ordinary man’. But this is ridiculous (as well as being suicidal) as Mary Church writes here (Rishi Sunak came to Scotland offering more North Sea drilling and carbon capture. We reject both):

“…carbon capture has a long history of over-promising and under-delivering – longer, in fact, than the time we have to bring down emissions if we want to secure a livable planet. The case for it is usually made on the grounds of a need to mop up residual emissions from sectors that are hard to reduce, such as cement and steel. This is patently not the plan for North Sea carbon capture and the Acorn project which are being used to justify continued use of oil and gas into the 2050s, despite the scientific consensus that fossil fuels need to go.”

“What’s not widely understood, however, and what the prime minister did not elaborate on, is that the projected volumes of carbon to be stored in exhausted North Sea wells go far beyond what the UK could feasibly require. The idea, backed by both the UK and Scottish governments despite the history of industry failure, is to turn the North Sea into Europe’s dumping ground for carbon. That’s hardly a vote-winner in either parliament.”

She concludes: “We know that the juxtaposition of jobs v climate that Sunak offers is false. With the right planning and investment, there is potential for three green jobs for every one job at risk from a managed phase-out of oil and gas in line with global climate goals.”

It’s a cliche that ‘there are no jobs on a dead planet’ but it’s true. Sunak’s flight of fancy is constitutionally incoherent and ecologically demented. But these myths and stories can only be perpetuated with a swathe of support from the cadre of journalists united in incomprehension. The vast majority of new NS oil and gas will be exported abroad and sold at global prices. It won’t improve our energy security, and it won’t make our energy bills cheaper either. What it will do is wreck our climate.

This isn’t about Carbon Capture or transition or any rational energy policy, it’s about appeasing the climate change deniers – and the culture warriors who Sunak believes will deliver him the next election. It’s the epitome of short-term expediency for political gain and anyone who supports it is complicit in selling our future.


Comments (4)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    To your list of nonsense quotes you could have included one by Ms Jackie Long, of the smug Ch4 News, when interviewing Professor Skea the incoming chair of the intergovernmental Climate Change committee: “Surely warmer winters are a good thing because fewer people will die of cold.”

  2. John says:

    It is interesting how Iain McWhirter has changed in last 10 years. Not sure if this is him becoming a grumpy old man or if he is writing what he thinks his employers and readers want to read.
    Jim Spence is a reasonable football journalist who has tried to go outside sports since becoming rector of Dundee University. He is a Brexit supporter and in common with many he has appears to becoming more grumpy and reactionary. The fact he has been given an opinion piece outwith sport is probably more a cost cutting excercise by Courier.
    I can not comment on Stephen Daisley’s background but he has always appeared as a typical anti-independence SNP bad writer.
    It seems to me that many of thes type of opinion writers have, since 2014 referendum, become almost radicalised in their opposition to Holyrood.
    Lastly as with quite a few other opinion writers their columns are about justifying their opinions/prejudices with little regard for facts.

  3. SleepingDog says:

    We’re heading for a hot war on a hell planet. Assuming we survive nukes and pandemics, we’ll face the mechanized armies emerging from their bunkers built defensively over oil silos pump-primed for the last battle. Unless we can figure out how to govern ourselves without destroying the biosphere.

  4. mark leslie edwards says:

    I wonder how many years we shall be into the fearful rush to turn everything electric as a long overdue, too late band aid to try & alleviate climate catastrophe before humanity in its near godlike ability to fk things up realises that over exposure to the ald lecky leads to cancer, like just about everything else this infernal race touches.

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