Hundreds of protesters will gather at Holyrood today to demand that plans for a new oilfield in the North Sea are dropped.
The Cambo oilfield off the Shetland Islands, 30 per cent owned by Shell and 70 per cent by the private equity company Siccar Point Energy, contains the equivalent of more than 800 million barrels of oil. In its first phase the project expects to extract 150-170 million barrels, which environmentalists say would create emissions equivalent to operating 16-18 coal-fired power stations for a year.
The regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority, part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is likely to decide in the next few weeks whether to approve or reject the plans, which come just months before Britain is due to host the UN climate conference in Glasgow.
In May the International Energy Agency made it clear that no new oil and gas fields should be developed if global warming is to be limited to 1.5C.
Campaigners are aghast that both the UK and Scottish governments are still seeking to maximise recovery of oil and gas despite commitments to reduce fossil fuel use, with the Holyrood administration committed to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
Mikaela Loach, a fourth-year medical student and one of the organisers of the protest 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. 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 oilfield must be stopped.”
The Cambo field is expected to produce oil and gas for about 25 years, with offshore development activities due to begin this year should it be approved. The first drilling is scheduled for next year and the first oil expected in 2025.