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Oil rig off the coast of Scotland

Greenpeace activists board a BP oil rig in Cromarty Firth, Scotland to stop it from further oil drilling at sea on June 10th 2019. Campaigners are decrying a plan to develop a new oil field in Scotland months ahead of a global climate action summit in Glasgow. (Photo: Kristian Buus/In Pictures via Getty Images Images)

Proposed New Oil Field in Scotland Ahead of Glasgow Climate Talks Decried as 'Obscenity'

"If ministers are serious about facing up to the climate crisis they must end their support for climate wrecking fossil fuels at home and abroad."

Julia Conley

Climate action campaigners on Wednesday demanded that the U.K. government reject plans by two fossil fuel giants to develop a large new oil field in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland's Shetland Islands—which have been announced as officials prepare for a global conference on the need to end fossil fuel extraction to mitigate the climate crisis.

"A managed phase out of oil and gas is necessary to protect people who work in this industry, their communities, and the climate." 
—Caroline Rance, FOE Scotland

Friends of the Earth Scotland called the possible approval of the Cambo oil field project "completely indefensible" and said it "would further damage the U.K.’s credibility on climate action ahead of the U.N. climate conference COP26 later this year."
 
COP26, formally known as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, is scheduled to take place in November, 400 miles south of Shetland. Officials are expected to negotiate possible funding for vulnerable countries that have already sustained damage from the planetary emergency, financing for climate action in the Global South, nature-based solutions, and timeframes for countries' individual emission reduction plans. 
 
"It is an obscenity that these plans are being progressed just months before the UN climate talks are due to take place in Glasgow," said Caroline Rance, a climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth (FOE) Scotland.
 
The proposal is being pushed by Shell Oil, which would control 30% of the Cambo oil field, and Siccar Point Energy, which would own 70%. The oil field contains over 800 million barrels of oil, the extraction of which would have a climate impact equivalent to 10 times Scotland's annual emissions.
 
In its first phase, the project would extract 150 million barrels—"as polluting as running 16 coal-fired power stations for a year," said FOE Scotland.
 
"Both the U.K. and Scottish governments must end their hypocritical support for drilling for every last drop of climate-wrecking oil and gas, and instead develop a clear plan for winding down fossil fuel extraction while building up support for retraining workers and supporting communities," Rance said. "That has to start with saying no to Cambo."
 
Siccar and Shell aim to continue producing oil at Cambo until 2050, while Scotland has said it plans to reach net-zero emissions five years earlier. Yet, FOE said, the government has not signaled its objection to the plan.
 
FOE spoke out against the companies' proposal a month after the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report stating that to reach net-zero fossil fuel emissions by 2050, policymakers must end all new investments in oil, gas, and coal extraction.
 
According to The Herald, the government is not considering the Cambo oil field proposal in its "climate checkpoint," which determines whether new oil developments are compatible with climate goals, because the companies originally sought licensing in 2001 and 2004.
 
"In terms of oil, it's not a new license, there are no new licenses this year," climate change minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan told the Scottish Affairs Committee Wednesday.
 
Rachel Kennerley, an international climate campaigner at FOE England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, said in a statement that "if ministers are serious about facing up to the climate crisis they must end their support for climate wrecking fossil fuels at home and abroad."
 
The IEA noted in its report that millions of new jobs could be created through worldwide investments in clean energy—a possibility FOE demanded policymakers in Scotland and the rest of the U.K. consider.
 
"A managed phase out of oil and gas is necessary to protect people who work in this industry, their communities, and the climate," said Rance. "This means no new oil and gas licenses and a plan for a rapid and fair transition away from fossil fuels."

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