THE UK Government’s statutory climate advisers have warned that Conservative ministers’ reasoning for supporting the controversial Cambo oil field “does not justify” investing in fossil fuel projects.
Shell and Siccar Point Energy have applied to the Oil and Gas Authority for permission to open up the Cambo oil field, west of Shetland.
The proposals, which need the approval of UK Government ministers, would continue to operate until 2050 – five years after Scotland has committed to becoming carbon net zero.
The Scottish Greens and Labour have called for the plans to be ditched over environmental concerns – while Nicola Sturgeon, who fell short of opposing the proposals, has called on Boris Johnson to “reassess” future oil and gas projects, including at Cambo.
The UK Government, which has signalled it will support the Cambo proposals, has pointed to the continuing need for oil and gas in the coming years as justification for the contentious plans being given the green light.
In response to previous request for comment from the Herald, a UK Government spokesperson said: “There will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee.”
UK ministers have reiterated the demand for oil and gas supply when pressed over the plans.
Speaking after meeting with the Cambo developers in Scotland earlier this week, Scotland Office minister David Duguid insisted that “we cannot have a cliff-edge where oil and gas are abandoned overnight as they have a role to play in our electricity supply, in providing local jobs, and in supporting the production of everyday essentials like medicines”.
The UK Government has brought forward a climate compatibility checkpoint requirement for future oil and gas projects but this is not set to include the Cambo plans due to the site being originally licensed in 2001.
But the Climate Change Committee, which advises bot the Scottish and UK governments over the move to net zero, has warned that the demand of oil and gas is not enough on its own to justify approving the plans.
Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, said: “It’s very clear that the UK must transition away from the unabated use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible.
“This requires action now, with policies to reduce direct emissions from fossil fuel consumption across the UK energy system. “We expect continuing demand for fossil fuels over this transition, but that fact alone does not justify investment in new oil and gas fields.
“We look forward to understanding the Government’s promised climate compatibility checkpoint on oil and gas licensing.”