SNP ministers have been told to break their silence and oppose the expansion of an oil field near Shetland just weeks before the COP26 climate conference takes place in Glasgow.
Shell and Siccar Point Energy have submitted plans to the UK Government to expand the Cambo field which will mean up to 170 million extra barrels of oil could be produced from the North Sea.
But the SNP has been urged to formally oppose the plans – with the Scottish Government having pledged to transform Scotland into a carbon neutral nation by 2045.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has recommended that new oil and gas projects are not taken forward.
The Scottish Greens have now lodged at motion at Holyrood, calling on MSP to officially show their opposition to the plans.
The Cambo heavy crude field off the coast of Shetland contains more than 800 million barrels of oil.
In its first phase, the project expects to extract 150-170 million barrels — the burning of which would create emissions equivalent to operating 16-18 coal-fired power stations for a year.
If approved, the Cambo extension would be producing oil and gas until 2050 if it begins operations from 2025, as developers hope.
Greens environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell, said: “The North Sea already has more oil than we can afford to burn if we are to meet the Paris climate commitments and secure our survival, so approving new fields would be a catastrophic decision by the UK Government.
“It’s important that the Scottish Parliament is clear in the messages it sends ahead of COP26, and that starts with urging the UK Government to see sense on this. I urge MSPs of all parties to back my motion.”
Campaigners have called on the Scottish Government to publicly oppose the Cambo plans – stressing approval by UK ministers would sent a dire message to the international community about the seriousness of tackling the climate crisis 15 weeks before the COP26 conference.
When asked about the Cambo project, US Climate Envoy John Kerry highlighted the International Energy Agency report calling for an end to new oil and gas projects due to their climate impact.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s climate and energy campaigner, Caroline Rance, said: “Nicola Sturgeon can’t sit on the fence about Cambo any longer.
“Her Government must oppose this huge new oil field off Shetland which would unleash hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and ever greater climate destruction. Scotland must put the right to a safe future for people and the planet ahead of oil company profits.
“Whilst the powers to give permits for oil drilling are reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government can send a clear message that it does not want these polluters speeding us closer to ever greater climate catastrophe.
“The Scottish Government has a long history of challenging Westminster policy it disagrees with, now is the time to do so again. The First Minister cannot stay silent on this, true leadership means taking a stand.”
She added: “If the Scottish Government is happy for this huge new oil field to go ahead, the First Minister must explain how she can square that support with playing host to the crucial UN climate talks in just a few months’ time. If all 800 million barrels in this field were dug up and burned the climate emissions would be equivalent to 10 years of Scotland’s entire climate pollution.
“Both the UK 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. That has to start with saying no to Cambo.
“The UK’s drilling plans in already operating oil and gas fields will far exceed the UK’s share under the Paris climate goals – further extraction will blast through safe climate limits.”
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.