As he gives £8m to Scottish Catholic charity SCIAF, Scotland’s First Minister rounds on Sunak over oil and gas licences

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been accused of “climate denial” by Scotland’s First Minister over plans to give out 100 new oil and gas licences.

Humza Yousaf made the accusation following an event where he introduced US climate envoy John Kerry in Edinburgh and announced a £24 million fund from the Scottish Government to support countries worst affected by the climate crisis.

The Prime Minister announced during a visit to Scotland last month that he would reveal the first of the new licenses in the autumn.

Speaking to journalists after the event, Mr Yousaf said: “What holds us back, of course, is a prime minister that’s in climate denial, coming up to Scotland to announce approval of 100 new oil and gas licences.

“Of course, the North Sea is important, we’ve got to take workers with us if we want to accelerate pace of the just transition, which can’t happen with a UK Government that simply denies the state of the climate crisis.”

Meanwhile, the First Minister announced that three aid agencies, including the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), will each receive up to £8 million over the next three years from the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund to support work in Rwanda, Malawi and Zambia.

It will enable them to work closely with communities to manage the material and social effects of climate change, funding projects such as building more climate-resilient housing or repairing village flood defences.

Mr Yousaf launched the programme today as he introduced a lecture by Mr Kerry focusing on the climate crisis.

During his introductory address, the First Minister said: “The countries which are the worst affected by the climate crisis are often those which have done little or nothing to cause it.

“The injustice at the heart of the global climate crisis is why Scotland became the first country in the world to establish a Climate Justice Fund more than a decade ago, and why we have led the way in being the first global north country to commit funding to address loss and damage.

“Today, we are able to announce the start of the Climate Just Communities programme in Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda. The programme will work with local communities – including with marginalised groups – so that they can identify their own priorities, and build their resilience to the climate crisis.

“The £24 million programme that we are confirming today is a significant commitment from a devolved government. It will make a real difference to the communities we are working with and it’s a further sign of Scotland’s determination to be a good global citizen – and to do our bit in tackling the climate crisis here in Scotland and across the world.”

SCIAF said it was thrilled that its funding bid had been successful.

“With a rich history of work in Rwanda, spanning three decades, SCIAF is delighted to further advance its work in the country through the new Climate Justice Communities (CJC) initiative,” the charity said on its website.

“This pioneering programme is run in consortium with Trócaire, CBM UK (Global Disability Inclusion), and five local partners in Rwanda. Specifically designed to combat the impacts of climate change, it will run from now until March 2026.

“SCIAF is one of three organisations who will each receive up to £8 million from the Scottish Government’s Climate Justice Fund, to support work in Rwanda, Malawi and Zambia respectively.”

Lorraine Currie, SCIAF’s Director of Integral Human Development added: “You don’t have to look far to see the devastation the changing climate is causing around the world. It is those living in some of the world’s poorest places who are bearing the brunt of these catastrophes, despite contributing the least to the climate crisis.

“This £8 million contract from the Scottish Government is a significant achievement, reinforcing our commitment to collaborating with local communities and drawing on their expertise. Working together with our partners, we will combat the material and social effects of climate change, to secure a promising future for the people of Rwanda.”

Story by Willam Kelly, The Catholic Network