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Scotland can survive without oil: Sturgeon

The case for Scotland being an independent country with -- or without -- oil is as strong as ever, Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon told CNBC Monday.

Speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of the COP21 United Nations conference on climate change Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), said the country could manage independence despite the sharp drop in oil prices on which Scotland relies for much of its economic wealth. The price of oil has fallen from $114 a barrel in June 2014 to around $40 today.

"I think the case for Scotland being an independent country with or without oil is a strong one," she said Monday.

"You take oil out of the equation for the economy and I think our output per head is broadly similar to the rest of the U.K. and for most of my lifetime we've had higher tax receipts than the rest of the U.K. as a whole so we're a strong and diverse economy," she added.

Scotland referendum north sea oil and gas Scottish independence
Gareth Mccormack | Lonely Planet Images | Getty Images

"Yes, oil and gas has been important and hopefully will be important for some years to come but our potential in renewables and a whole range of economic sectors is strong as well."

Sturgeon said she "took it on the chin" that she and her party did not win a referendum on Scottish independence that was held last September – 55 percent of Scots voted against leaving the U.K. against 44 percent in favor. However, she said she didn't accept that the economic case for leaving the U.K. "didn't stack up."

The aim of the COP21 conference is for global leaders to come to an agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the week that would see nations committing to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

The U.K.'s Chancellor, George Osborne, is also attending the talks and Sturgeon said that Scotland, with the U.K., was "pushing for as strong an agreement as possible to come out of these talks."


"The consequences of failure this week for some of the developing countries of the world are too large to contemplate," she said.

Despite a united front in tackling climate change, Sturgeon was unable to resist a dig at U.K. chancellor, who is overseeing continued spending cuts in the U.K. as part of an austerity drive, which she opposes.

"I think George Osborne -- who I'm told has ambitions to become prime minister -- has some work to do to make sure his tackling-climate-change credentials are a bit stronger than they appear to be right now."

"This is not all about short-term budget cuts…this is about making sure we make that transition to a low-carbon economy, de-carbonizing our energy supply and some of the decisions I'm pretty sure he's behind have run in the opposite direction to that."

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Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling out of the SNP (Scottish National Party) acronym.