Image: courtesy of Gina Martin

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

What Is #StopCambo?

UK Government loophole will allow new oil drilling in the North Sea: what you can do to stop it

By hannah rochell 
24 august 2021

Climate campaigners are up-in-arms about proposed projects that will be drilling for as much as 1.7 billion barrels of oil as late as 2050, long after we’re meant to have stopped relying on fossil fuels. The Cambo heavy crude oil field would be off the coast of Shetland in the North Sea, and it could be given approval before Prime Minister Boris Johnson greets world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow in November. Mr Johnson has claimed that he was 'not aware' of the Cambo oil field decision before declaring that 'we can't just tear up contracts' after receiving criticism. He also received delivery of a petition signed by 80k people objecting to the project. It was delivered to 10 Downing Street by climate campaigners including Mikaela Loach (pictured below).

Rather than following the lead of Denmark and France, which have both agreed to ban new oil exploration licences, and in spite of having signed the Paris Climate Agreement which agrees that in order to keep global warming to 1.5ºC, there should be no new coal, gas or oil developments, the UK Government will allow oil drillers to continue exploring the North Sea for new reserves if they pass a “climate compatibility test”, a move described by the head of Greenpeace’s UK oil campaign, Mel Evans, as ‘a colossal failure in climate leadership’. But in a further loophole, Cambo will not even have to pass through this controversial climate checkpoint at all, because it is part of a previously licenced project.

Last year alone, the UK issued a whopping 113 new licences to search for more oil; there are already 282 fields with reserves of the equivalent of 5 billion barrels of oil. On its current trajectory, the UK is on track to double or even quadruple its oil reserves, something which is in direct conflict with its pledge to reach net zero emissions

And new oil exploration could get the green light in proposed projects across the UK, albeit on a smaller scale. At the other end of the country on the Isle of Wight, campaigners are once more fighting against drilling for oil on the island, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The campaign group Don’t Drill The Wight gathered over three thousand objections from the small community back in March - the most ever on the Isle of Wight - yet nothing has been decided by the planning committee. Meanwhile, the oil company in question made another application to the Environment Agency - which has itself received much criticism. If it went ahead, the development would mean a loss of green space, air and soil pollution, damage to the water supply and threats to local wildlife including hedgehogs, bats and red squirrels, all of which are endangered or vulnerable

So what can you do? Stop Cambo has issued advice on who to write to, what to sign and what to share on social media, which you can read here. High profile names including Gina Martin (pictured, top) and Paid To Pollute (a campaign spearheaded by climate activist Mikaela Loach) have already posted on the subject and continue to campaign - you can share their posts if you don’t want to make your own: it’s that simple. Let’s make some noise.

This article was originally published in July and has since been updated

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