Stop Boris Johnson opening a new oil field in the year of COP26
A few years back a lively debate kicked-off about rumours of a ‘secret oil field’ west of Shetland. This, some Scottish nationalist campaigners argued was being hidden by the British state and would make the case for independence. We’d be rich.
Now, today, young activists are barricaded into ‘Queen Elizabeth House’ the giant Union Jack that is the UK government’s subtle new ploy to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the locals. This movement has a different take on the ‘secret oil field’ west of Shetland, this movement wants independence from oil, not independence through oil. They want a future.
Early this morning activist stormed and occupied Queen Elizabeth House, the new UK Government Hub by Waverley, and blocked the main entrance. The group are demanding that the Prime Minister puts a stop to the expected approval of the Cambo oil field in the North Sea. The action was followed up by a rally at the same offices in the afternoon. The Cambo oil field off the coast of the Shetland Islands, which is 30% owned by Shell and 70% by private equity firm Siccar Point Energy, contains over 800 million barrels of oil. In its first phase, the project expects to extract 150-170 million of these — the burning of which would create emissions equivalent to operating 16-18 coal-fired power stations for a year. The actions were the start of mass protest and movement building in the run up to the delayed COP26 in Glasgow this autumn, including Climate Camp Scotland.
“We are organising mass disobedience against fossil fuels in Scotland.”
Climate activist Mikaela Loach said, “Floods are ripping through Germany. Madagascans are starving and thirsty in a fierce drought. North Americans are dying in unprecedented deadly heatwaves and wildfires rage. And the Amazon is emitting more CO2 than it absorbs. In all this chaos, the UK Government, host of the COP26 UN Climate Negotiations, is happy to sign away 800 million barrels of oil, just so a few shareholders can turn a profit. This is criminal. The Cambo oil field must be stopped.”
The regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), part of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is set to decide in the coming weeks whether to approve or reject the plans, which come just months before the UK is due to host the crucial UN climate conference in Glasgow.
Neil Rothnie, 68, former oil worker and founding member of Offshore Industry Liaison Committee, (pictured above) said “I don’t believe that we can just keep on exploring for, and producing, all the planet’s oil and gas. My understanding of the science is that if we do that, climate change will destroy the planet as we know it, and much of the life it supports. I have young grandchildren. That destruction could be well advanced in their grandchildren’s lifetime. That scares the shit out of me.”
In May, the International Energy Agency, the world’s leading energy organisation, made it clear that no new oil and gas fields should be developed if we are to limit global warming to 1.5C. Both the UK and Scottish Government’s official policy is to maximise recovery of oil and gas – despite being in direct contradiction to their efforts to reduce fossil fuel use and even meet their own inadequate 2050 net zero target.
“The Cambo oil field off the coast of the Shetland Islands, which is 30% owned by Shell and 70% by private equity firm Siccar Point Energy, contains over 800 million barrels of oil. In its first phase, the project expects to extract 150-170 million of these — the burning of which would create emissions equivalent to operating 16-18 coal-fired power stations for a year.”
Scott Tully, 29 year old activist from Glasgow Calls Out Polluters, said “To approve the Cambo oil field would be an act of wilful climate criminality from the UK Government. This would also be utterly irreconcilable with the demands of hosting COP26. The UK cannot talk a big game on global climate ambition whilst sheepishly bending to the planet-wrecking agendas of big polluters like Shell.”
Some speakers were hostile to the COP meeting describing it as a scam and a con. Quan Nguyen from COP26 Coalition argued: “COP26 and Cambo are part of the same logic” – “COP26 is not going to give us climate justice”. Others – including the Green’s Lorna Slater spoke of the need for climate justice, workers rights and a just transition.
The climate impacts of the huge new oil field in the sea West of Shetland would be devastating. The companies want to start by drilling for over 150 million barrels of oil – equivalent to the annual pollution from 16 polluting coal-fired power stations. The idea of Boris Johnson approving a major new oil field just weeks before the climate talks in Glasgow is obscene.
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