Climate news has been a lot recently, as the effects of global heating continue to be felt across the world. While the challenges can feel insurmountable, one thing I can recommend is finding specific campaigns to focus your energy on. We need as many people as possible in the fight at a larger level, and a good way to channel your emotions, be proactive and find solidarity in community? Supporting the Stop Cambo campaign.
The history of Cambo
Just months ahead of COP26, fossil fuel giant Shell and Siccar Point Energy are seeking permission from the UK government to develop Cambo oil field, off the coast of Shetland. It was first discovered in 2002, after an exploration license for the area was granted in 2001, and is one of the deepest fields discovered in Northern Europe in 1100m of water. It’s believed to contain 800 million barrels of oil.
Siccar Point Energy (SPE), based in Aberdeen, acquired 100% operating interest in the field after they bought out the UK arm of Austrian based firm OMV for $1 billion in January 2017. SPE then brought Shell UK in as a partner in May 2018, who hold a 30% share. SPE holds the remaining 70%.
An emissions disaster
The Cambo Field is the second-largest oil and gas development waiting for approval and, once up and running, is set to be the fifth-largest producer in the North Sea.
If the Oil and Gas Authority approves the licence for oil to be extracted from the field this could start as early as 2022, with the first oil production expected in 2025. In the first phase, the companies expect to extract up to 170 million barrels of oil, the emissions equivalent of 18 coal-fired power plants running for a year. The climate impact from producing and burning all 800 million barrels of oil that exist in the field would be the equivalent of 10 times Scotland’s annual emissions.
If approved, Cambo Field will be the first UK project to get the green light since the International Energy Agency Net Zero report calling for no new investment in oil and gas, alongside the Shell ruling mandating the company to slash carbon emissions 45% by 2030. Cambo is anticipated to operate until 2050, by which time Britain is supposed to meet goals to be net carbon neutral. The Scottish Government’s target is to reach net-zero in 2045.
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Moving forward with the Cambo Field is fundamentally incompatible with meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement. And this is just the beginning. Cambo Field is only one of many oil and gas projects waiting for government approval, together they have the potential to extract 1.7 billion barrels of oil. Any and all of these plans must be resisted.
No new UK jobs
Alongside environmental destruction, the Cambo Field will bring few jobs, little tax and a potentially huge cleanup bill for the public. Contracts for construction and installation have been awarded to overseas firms, meaning the bulk of jobs will be outside of the UK.
As part of a global oil market, 80% of UK crude oil is currently exported, and so this field would not contribute significantly to UK energy security. Siccar Point Energy also paid no net tax between 2015 and 2019, instead receiving £41mn from the government to cover decommissioning costs. Meanwhile, the complexity of the field and the high cost of operating in the West of Shetland makes the project high risk, with similar projects suffering from large cost overruns that have driven producers to bankruptcy.
Plus, nearly two-thirds of Scottish people support the creation of a concrete plan to wind down the existing extraction of oil and gas in the North Sea. Nearly three quarters say they would back the UK Government offering financial support to workers in oil and gas to retrain in the renewable energy sector or other low carbon industries, while 66% believe the Government should redirect spending earmarked for North Sea oil and gas extraction to renewable technologies and low carbon industries.
The argument that Cambo would in some way benefit UK workers or the economy is, quite simply, false.
Climate progress under threat
Approving the Cambo field will also be a massive failure of UK climate leadership and threatens to undermine the success of crucial UN climate talks. The eyes of the world are set to turn to the UK as the hosts of UN climate talks in Glasgow, approving the Cambo field will send a clear message that this government is not serious about climate action and not willing to do its part to phase out fossil fuels.
If the UK keeps extracting oil and gas, how can it expect other countries to take action?
The International Energy Agency has stated that to meet the 1.5°C target set out in the Paris Agreement, there should be no more new investment in oil, gas, or coal. Plus, the recent UK Climate Change Committee assessment clearly laid out that current UK policies are far from delivering the UK’s climate goals. The amount of oil and gas in already operating fields in the UK will exceed our share of emissions in relation to the Paris climate goals, the world cannot afford to open more.
If Boris Johnson is serious about being a climate leader, he must reject Cambo, all new fossil fuel developments and support a just transition for oil and gas workers and impacted communities.
It’s time to commit to a rapid and fair energy transition. With the right policy support, the UK could create three jobs in clean energy for every oil & gas job at risk. We need a clear, credible plan to wind down production and deliver a just transition that is driven by oil and gas workers, their unions and affected communities.
Why stopping Cambo matters
It’s clear that Shell has no commitment to climate targets, or to planetary and human health. Since the Hague’s Court decision, which ordered the firm to dramatically reduce emissions, it has decided to appeal the court ruling rather than take action. In fact, Shell’s CEO Van Beurden defended the development by stating that stopping Cambo was nothing more than a “symbolic” gesture for climate change. This is not only an egregious statement, it is scientifically wrong. The UK, and the world, is in dire need of a just energy transition.
Shell is the 7th largest polluting company in the world. Pursuing the Cambo development shows it’s incapable of stopping while it can still make money from oil and gas. The world is on fire, underwater and millions are in drought. Governments need to step in and force change.
Boris Johnson recently told the BBC he was ‘not aware’ of the Cambo proposal, despite the fact that the Oil and Gas Authority, which is part of the UK government, is charged with making the decision on whether or not to approve the plans. Separately, Keir Starmer yesterday said the Cambo oil field should not get the go-ahead and called for a “hard-edged” timetable to end oil and gas extraction. It’s time to up the pressure and make our voices heard.
Recently a #StopCambo petition hand in was organised by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with over 80,000 signatures. But there is more to be done.
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Four Ways To Take Action To #StopCambo
- Sign The Open Letter
- Upload a photo with a #StopCambo sign to Social Media
Make a #StopCambo sign and upload it on social media, using the hashtag #StopCambo and tagging @StopCambo.
- Email Your MP
Use this Email your MP about Stop Cambo tool and ask them to call on Boris Johnson to reject Cambo’s silence before COP. The Stop Cambo campaign have put together draft talking points below but your MP is more likely to listen and act if it’s personal.
- I’m writing to ask you to call on the Prime Minister to reject the proposed Cambo oil field west of Shetland
- The first phase of the Cambo project seeks to extract 170 million barrels of oil – the equivalent of 18 coal-fired power plants running for a year. That’s just phase one.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that to meet the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement, there should be no more new investment in oil, gas, or coal.
- Extracting from Cambo field directly contradicts the warning of the IEA and sets us further on a dangerous path past 1.5°C
- Approving the massive new Cambo oil field would be a colossal failure of UK climate leadership and could threaten the success of the crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow in November.
- If Boris Johnson is serious about taking climate action, he must Stop Cambo, all new fossil fuel developments and support a just transition for oil and gas workers and impacted communities.
- Please call on the Prime Minister and the UK government to reject Cambo and all new oil, gas and coal projects before the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.