++ YouGov polling of SNP voters shows overwhelming support for UK to ‘get off oil and gas as quickly as possible’

++ First Minister candidates are urged to speed progress towards a fair and fast energy transition for workers and communities

A YouGov poll of 1,000 SNP voters has shown that there is huge support for a quicker move away from oil and gas to ensure access to reliable and affordable energy. A majority of respondents who expressed an opinion supported a ban on exploration for new oil and gas, and opposed the controversial Rosebank oil field.

Campaigners say that the candidates to be First Minister must lay out their vision for how Scotland will move away from oil and gas in a fair and fast way, in line with climate science. The next First Minister will be selected by SNP members in the coming weeks.

The respondents also back more support for affected workers and communities to help them benefit from the transition away from fossil fuels. The YouGov poll for Uplift/ Friends of the Earth Scotland was carried out on 22/23 Feb 2023.

Polling results:

  • 70% of SNP voters support the UK to ‘get off oil and gas as quickly as possible’ by ramping up efforts to improve energy efficiency and developing lots more renewable energy.
    Just 4% thought the UK should ‘continue to meet its energy demand primarily with oil and gas for as long as is necessary’
  • 45% support for a ban on new exploration for oil and gas (compared to 39% who did not support, and 16% who said they didn’t know)
  • 86% of SNP voters thought more support should be given to oil and gas workers to transition to green jobs
  • 62% of respondents thought that not enough was being done to ensure communities in North East Scotland were ready and able to benefit from the transition away from oil and gas.
  • 89% of SNP voters were supportive of the creation of a ‘publicly owned company to produce energy’ which would ‘ensure the benefits of the transition to renewables are more widely shared’

Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church commented,

“As the campaign to be the next First Minister hots up, any credible candidate must put the need for a fair and fast transition away from fossil fuels at the heart of their vision for Scotland’s future. Backsliding on fossil fuels or supporting UK Government plans to drill for more oil would only exacerbate the climate crisis.

“Rapidly bringing down emissions while protecting affected communities and workers through this transition will be one of the defining challenges of the coming decade. This transformation to a climate safe future must prioritise meeting the needs of ordinary people rather than clinging on to an outdated energy system that only benefits profiteering oil companies.

“From banning fracking and opposing the Cambo field, to asking how soon to phase out oil and gas in the recent energy strategy, Nicola Sturgeon has started to steer the SNP away from its long-standing allegiance to fossil fuels. Her successor must continue in this direction and swiftly rule out support for any new fossil fuels, and put a plan in place to end reliance on oil and gas within this decade.”

Lauren MacDonald from Stop Rosebank commented,

“People in Scotland understand that there is no future in new fields like Rosebank and are tired of being rinsed by oil and gas producers. They can see that the public harms outweigh the benefits, whether it’s the more than half a billion pounds in public subsidies Rosebank will get, despite the industry raking in billions, or the vast emissions from burning its reserves.”

“It’s also clear from this polling that people want a proper, managed transition, which won’t happen as long as new drilling is allowed to continue.

“Anyone aspiring to lead the party and Scotland needs to not just acknowledge these views but make sure they are heard loud and clear in Westminster.”

The UK Government’s decision is imminent on the approval of Rosebank, which is the largest undeveloped oil field in UK waters. The Scottish Government has said that new fossil fuels are not the answer to either the cost of living crisis or the climate emergency.

Nicola Sturgeon has said that her Government will end its support for drilling every last drop of oil and gas as part of its new Energy Strategy. The Scottish Government is also consulting on whether there should be a presumption against exploring for new oil and gas and limits on existing fields. A quicker phase out of oil and gas is needed in order to limit global heating to the critical 1.5oC threshold.

Despite commitments by the Scottish Government to co-design the Just Transition Plan for the energy sector, direct involvement of oil and gas workers has been limited to an online survey so far. The chair of the Just Transition Commission wrote to the Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work about his ‘deep concern’ after the Government failed to consult with them on the development of the Plan. The Plan includes a number of Just Transition outcomes but no route map to delivering them.

In 2017, the Scottish Government announced they would support a publicly owned energy company but subsequently dropped the idea. There has been criticism that the huge Scotwind project has privatised the opportunity for offshore wind, risking a failure to deliver supply chain benefits, protections for workers and a long term source of revenue to the public purse.

UK Labour have pledged to create a Great British Energy company to generate ‘clean power’ if they get into UK Government.

Climate experts have been clear that there can be no new fossil fuel projects if the world is to stay within agreed climate limits of 1.5C of warming.


YouGovDirect interviewed 1000 people who voted SNP in the 2019 general election between 21-22 February 2023. The polling was commissioned by Friends of the Earth Scotland and Uplift on behalf of the Stop Rosebank and Stop Cambo campaigns. www.stopcambo.org.uk

View the questions and results of the polling at https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/10rzzh78uzD9O4I6h6da-_L4qMBZReoE8/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=112378884444269383624&rtpof=true&sd=true

Uplift’s mission is to support and energise the movement for a just and fossil fuel-free UK. https://upliftuk.org/

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.