Boris Johnson ‘not aware’ of Cambo oil plans. He is now!

80,000 strong letter opposing oil field handed in to 10 Downing Street
  Published:  05 Aug 2021    |      3 minute read

Photos of the hand-in are available here

Over 80,000 signatures in opposition to plans from oil giant, Shell and private equity firm, Siccar Point Energy for a huge new oil development in the Cambo field, West of Shetland [1] will be handed into 10 Downing Street today. The joint letters are addressed to the Prime Minister and Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Boris Johnson yesterday told the BBC he was ‘not aware’ of the proposal [2], despite the fact that the Oil and Gas Authority, which is part of the UK government, is charged with making the decision on whether or not to approve the plans. Separately, Keir Starmer yesterday said the Cambo oilfield should not get the go-ahead and called for a “hard-edged” timetable to end oil and gas extraction.

The plans for Cambo clearly contradict the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) advice [3] that there should be no new fossil fuel development. This is so that we can try and avoid the catastrophic 1.5°C rise in global temperature.

The development will also run roughshod over the UK’s commitments to meeting its climate targets. There’s already enough oil and gas in existing sites to cause the UK to exceed its share of emissions under the Paris Agreement goals.

In addition to the 80,000-strong letter being handed in to Downing Street this morning, an open letter signed by 77 organisations has this week been sent to Boris Johnson, similarly calling on him to reject Shell's Cambo proposal. Signatories include Save the Children, RSPB, Oxfam, 350, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Avaaz and Uplift.

The letter says: "As the host of COP26, it is vital for the UK’s international leadership credentials on climate change for it to walk the walk on all aspects of domestic energy policy. The Government has succeeded in mobilising the G7 behind the 1.5C target, which we strongly support. However, approving the Cambo Field will threaten this progress and stall our efforts at climate diplomacy at the exact moment we need them to accelerate. It will be hard to avoid the irony of world leaders meeting in Glasgow to discuss how to achieve a 1.5 degree world, while the UK Government contemplates a new oil field just over 300 miles to the north.”

Caroline Rance, Friends of the Earth Scotland Climate & Energy Campaigner, said:

"Boris Johnson doesn’t sound like a climate leader on top of his brief. With less than 100 days to go to COP, how does he not know what is going on in the North Sea and the fact that his government is poised to approve this huge oil field? If the Oil and Gas Authority is going rogue and just nodding these massive projects through, then the Prime Minister has to personally get a grip on energy policy and put a stop to these developments.

“The government should be supporting and re-training oil and gas workers to transition to jobs in sectors such as renewable energy or decommissioning oil platforms. A managed phase-out away from oil and gas is necessary to create the long-term protection for people who currently work in this industry, their communities and the climate.”

Charlotte Howell-Jones, Parents for Future, said:

“Allowing this new oil field now, directly jeopardises our ability to ensure a safe future. It is essentially an act of ecocide. As parents we will not stand by and watch this happen. Now is the time for this Government to prioritise a just transition for oil and gas workers and the communities impacted and to start leading on clean energy. And given the clear statement from the IEA that there is no requirement for any new oil and gas, it’s imperative Cambo is stopped if we are to have a shred of credibility left hosting the COP in November.”

Mikaela Loach, medical student and climate activist, said:

“Any new oil field is incompatible with a liveable future and the UK government knows that. Choosing new oil over investing in green infrastructure needed for a safe and better future is violence. They are sacrificing my generation, and people elsewhere in the world who have done the least to cause climate change, for short-term profit. Approving this new oil field mere months before hosting the UN climate conference in Glasgow would show that the UK government are not serious about climate action. This is why the Cambo Field cannot go ahead.”

Notes to editors

1. For petitions, please see Friends of the Earth; Friends of the Earth Scotland; Oil Change International.

2. BBC Scotland interview with Boris Johnson, 4 Aug 2021: (question on the North Sea and Cambo from 11.40)

3. ‘No new oil & gas’ to meet climate commitments, says International Energy Agency report, May 2021.

Summary of the Cambo Project, including Siccar Point Energy’s environmental statement, on the BEIS website.

Cambo Field details from Siccar Point Energy.

Uplift is a not-for-profit initiative with a mission to support and energise the movement for a just and fossil fuel-free UK. It resources, connects, and elevates ideas and voices to support a just transition away from fossil fuel production.