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#StopCambo: Unsure of where to begin with climate action? Start by fighting this UK oil field development

Experts have said we must immediately stop oil or gas extraction to save the planet. So why are Tories developing a giant oil field in Scotland?

16 Aug 2021

#StopCambo campaign

The world is quite literally either on fire or under water right now. Climate disaster is now, it’s everywhere and the dire predictions in the recently released sixth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was a “code red for humanity”. The experts – even traditionally conservative ones – have been very clear: if planet earth is to remain liveable, we need drastic changes now, with immediate, massive reductions in our use of oil and gas at the top of the list. 

So, the UK government cannot claim to be “climate leaders” whilst simultaneously approving a giant, climate-destroying new oil field – named the Cambo field – in the North Sea, mere months before hosting COP26 in Glasgow. If approved, the Cambo oil field would be absolutely catastrophic for climate. Emissions from production and burning would be equivalent to 10 times the annual emissions for the whole of Scotland. 

It is worse than hypocrisy. It is neocolonial violence towards the global majority living in climate vulnerable areas. It is violence towards our generation. They are sacrificing us for short term profit. We absolutely cannot let this happen.

Let’s unpack this a little. 

What is the Cambo Field? 

The Cambo oil field is a big, natural fossil fuel reservoir under the seabed off the coast of Scotland. This oil field is one of the biggest in Europe, thought to contain 800 million barrels of oil (boe). Now, that’s a LOT of oil. To put into context, the expected 170 million boe that’s planned to be extracted in just the first phase from Cambo would create emissions equivalent to 18 coal-fired power plants running for an entire year.

Who is asking for permission? 

Siccar Point Energy, and Shell. Yes, the latter is the same company that’s recently led headlines for losing multiple legal battles in a Dutch court and subsequently being instructed to reduce their emissions by 45% by 2030 and pay $111m over historic oil spills in Nigeria. Siccar Point Energy is owned in an offshore tax haven. When it comes to companies, these two are categorically the worst. 

Why is the Cambo field so bad? Don’t we need oil for energy?

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to rapidly decline oil and gas production. Already, the UK is set to extract three times its fair share of oil and gas. The current approved and operating oil fields in the UK are able to supply far more than the UK’s oil and gas needs to tide us through a just transition to renewables. New oil fields – like Cambo – are absolutely unnecessary. Even considering approving this new oil field months before hosting COP26, the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, sends a strong message that the UK government is not serious about climate action.

The sad and terrifying reality is that the world is on track to produce double the amount of fossil fuels that can be burned if we are to stay within our agreed climate limits. Double. We have to stop this. If there’s one thing to take from the new IPCC report it’s this: every single fraction of a degree of warming we can prevent matters. Every. Fraction. Matters. Every oil field that we can block the approval of matters. The more oil we can keep in the ground, the more lives saved. We cannot give in to climate doom. We must act.

Help us #StopCambo now

What we really need is investment in green infrastructure and a new economy which will protect and care for all of us. We need investment in a managed transition away from climate destroying fossil fuels which centres workers rights and creating a better world for all of us. We simply do not need new oil fields. 

Rather than investing in and supporting a new oil field, the UK government could instead be pursuing a Green New Deal which would not only prevent further climate catastrophe, but also create a better world. 

This will only happen if we all come together, make a whole lot of noise and disrupt their current catastrophic plans. 

In the last couple months of the #StopCambo campaign, we have seen actions all across the UK. There have demonstrations on the beach in Shetland and outside Shell’s HQ in London; an occupation of the UK government building in Edinburgh; challenges of Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow; and a hand-in of the over 80,000 strong petition to Boris Johnson’s door in 10 Downing Street. 

All of this action and noise has resulted in Keir Starmer finally getting off the fence on something and calling for Cambo to not be approved and Nicola Sturgeon sending a letter to Johnson stressing the need for the Cambo plans to be “reassessed”. 

Direct action works. 

Cambo has become headline news all over the world and the UK government is starting to feel the pressure. This is just the beginning. To #StopCambo, we need all of you. We need as many people as possible to get behind this campaign. 

Here are some simple ways you can help #StopCambo:

Change isn’t passive. We create it ourselves. Let’s fight for it, together.