NICOLA Sturgeon has demanded that Boris Johnson agrees to “reassess” the Cambo oil field plans in light of the latest climate warnings – but has stopped short of demanding the controversial plans are ripped up.
The First Minister has called for politicians to work together to “secure a just, but appropriately rapid, transition for the oil and gas industry”.
Shell and Siccar Point Energy have applied to extract oil from the Cambo oil field, near Shetland. But the plans, set to be considered by the UK Government, have faced fierce criticism on environmental grounds.
A stark report from the UN Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published on Monday, warned that extreme interventions to cut emissions are needed from all governments to salvage efforts to keep global warming below a dangerous tipping point.
In response, the UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, said: “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”
But UK Government ministers have hinted that the Cambo plans, which would produce 800 million barrels of oil and continue production five years after Scotland has committed to become net zero, should go ahead.
The First Minister has faced criticism over her lack of opposition to the plans with a Scottish Govenrment spokesperson stating that any support for fossil fuel extraction “is conditional upon them contributing to a sustainable and inclusive energy transition”.
Ms Sturgeon has now written to the Prime Minister, urging him to help “secure a transition (away from oil and gas) that is truly just but also fast enough to protect the planet”.
In her letter, the First Minister has warned that the IPCC report “must prompt all of us who hold positions of leadership to consider what more we can, and must, do”, adding it “cannot be business as usual”.
She added: “We must take decisions and make investments now to support – and accelerate – the development of these alternatives and thereby secure a just, but appropriately rapid, transition for the oil and gas industry, and the workers and communities currently reliant on it.”
The First Minister has highlighted the UK Government’s North Sea transition deal and plans to introduce climate checks on future licences, but added “I believe we must go further”.
An initial licence for exploration of the Cambo field was granted in 2001, allowing the licence-holders to search for oil and assess viability of the site for extraction.
But the companies behind the project must apply for consent, and the UK Secretary for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, and the Oil and Gas Authority can withhold approval.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I am asking the UK Government now commits to significantly enhancing the climate conditionality associated with offshore oil and gas production.
“I am also asking that the UK Government agrees to reassess licences already issued but where field development has not yet commenced. That would include the proposed Cambo development.”
The First Minister has told Mr Johnson that the Cambo licence “should be reassessed in light of the severity of the climate emergency we now face, and against a robust compatibility checkpoint that is fully aligned with our climate change targets and obligations”.
She said: “The Scottish Government would be happy to engage further about exactly what this process should involve to ensure that it is credible and commands confidence.
“There is no doubt how important our highly-skilled oil and gas industry and workforce are to Scotland but we must ensure they, and the existing infrastructure, can help Scotland seize the opportunities of the transition to net zero.
“We cannot rest on business as usual in the face of a climate emergency.”