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Scotland’s Green Party is proposing that Britain nationalize its oil industry, which it says not only would end dependence on multinational corporations but also create at least 40,000 new jobs.
The report, written by industry critic Mika Minio-Paluello, urges a comprehensive change in the United Kingdom’s economic policy by moving away from tax breaks for foreign oil companies, which are meant to stimulate oil production. Instead, it calls for the government to allow individual communities to oversee initiatives in renewable energy, all owned by the public.
Scotland’s oil sector has been severely damaged by the 14-month-old plunge in oil prices, and layoffs in the industry have been rife. George Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, had hoped to stimulate the North Sea energy economy and avert layoffs with further tax cuts, but so far that hasn’t been enough.
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“The North Sea oil industry says jobs are threatened by falling oil prices,” said the report, issued Aug. 25, “but a better future for Scotland is possible. More and better jobs. A safer and more stable economy. Stronger communities. A long-term future as an energy exporter. Moving from energy colonialism to energy democracy.”
“This better future won’t come with tax cuts for oil corporations and trying to extract every last barrel [of crude],” Minio-Paluello wrote. “It means changing direction towards a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. … Sustainable sectors in the new economy can employ significantly more people than currently work in fossil fuel industries.”
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In fact, it predicted that such changes could lead to jobs for as many as 200,000 people in five years, compared with the 156,000 now working in Scotland’s oil industry.
These new jobs would include positions for biochemists, bus drivers, crane operators, electrical engineers, foresters, and geologists, among many others, the report said.
“The transformation we are proposing involves reducing dependency on distant multinationals and [focusing on] the public sector, workers and energy users co-operatives as well as small and medium Scottish companies,” Minio-Paluello’s report said.
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Alison Johnstone, a Green member of Scotland’s Parliament, said the document addresses the very core of her country’s current economic crisis. “The only credible and responsible course of action is a managed transition towards sustainable sectors as outlined in this major report,” she said.
Lang Banks, the director of the environmental group WWF Scotland, agreed, saying, “[W]e need ministers [to] become more forward-thinking, perhaps by creating a low-carbon futures task force that could plan a sensible and coordinated transition that delivered sustainable jobs and communities in cleaner manufacturing and industries,” he said. “I hope this study helps stimulate that sort of thinking.”
By Andy Tully Of Oilprice.com
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Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com