- Greenpeace staged a protest at Downing Street with a 12-ft statue of Boris Johnson and called on the PM to block a permit for a new oil field at Cambo, west of Shetland.
- The Business Secretary admits that exposure to fossil fuels highlights the need for a strong renewables sector.
- But the UK government is poised to approve plans for a new oilfield at Cambo.
- Campaigners argue that the UK’s fossil fuel reliance isn’t working for consumers, workers or the climate.
- Government must stop Cambo and instead direct resources into a just transition to renewable energy, power storage, warm homes, clean travel and green jobs.
Pictures and video will be available here.
CAMPAIGNERS have installed a 12-ft oil-splattered statue of a dithering Boris Johnson at Downing Street today, urging him to end the UK’s reliance on oil, to protect consumers, workers and the climate.
Activists locked themselves to a stone-effect statue of the Prime Minister, calling him out for preparing to approve a huge new oil field at Cambo, west of Shetland, amid a gas price crisis, just three weeks ahead of hosting global climate talks . The statue’s plaque states: “Cambo oilfield: Boris Johnson’s monumental climate failure”.
Philip Evans, oil campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “People across the UK are feeling the stresses of a gas price crisis as well as a climate crisis, and the government acknowledges that our reliance on fossil fuels has left the UK vulnerable and exposed. People are right to feel angry and upset.
“Johnson’s failure to act has left us with petrol queues, energy companies going bust, offshore workers unemployed for months on end, and a deepening climate crisis.
“Johnson must stop Cambo, and instead prioritise a just transition to renewable energy to protect consumers, workers and the climate from future shocks. If he doesn’t, he will be remembered as a monumental climate failure.”
Last month Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, admitted: “The UK’s exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to build a strong, home-grown renewable energy sector” . But when it comes to Cambo, 80% of oil extracted is likely to be exported, and production won’t start for a few years – so the project would do very little to shore up the UK’s energy supply and won’t fix the current gas price crisis .
And with just weeks to go until the UK hosts global climate talks, COP26, Johnson has expressed increasing frustration that global efforts to tackle climate change are “nowhere near enough” .
Experts at the International Energy Agency have warned that to meet the goals of the Paris agreement there can be no new fossil fuel projects beyond those already underway this year . And following the most recent IPCC report, the UN Secretary General has said the latest climate science must sound a “death knell for fossil fuels” and that countries should end all new fossil fuel exploration and production .
Yet Johnson still plans to approve Cambo, which would produce emissions equivalent of up to 18 coal plants running for a year and would be a climate disaster .
The Cambo proposals have been met with fierce opposition, and have become a battleground for environmentalists ahead of the climate talks.
If the UK goes ahead with Cambo, it faces being politically isolated. When asked about Cambo, US climate envoy, John Kerry, said “We need to transition in the next 10 years, not extend”, and Labour leader Keir Starmer has said the government should refuse the drilling permit . Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called on Johnson to “reassess” the Cambo plans .
Today’s protest comes as the UK battles a gas price crisis. A series of global gas supply issues has driven up energy prices in the UK, resulting in multiple suppliers going bust, and leaving millions of people facing a winter of fuel poverty. At the same time, a shortage of lorry drivers has interrupted the supply of petrol and diesel, causing a spate of panic-buying and leading to huge travel disruption.
The UK’s lack of energy storage capacity also left us poorly prepared for periods of calm weather, where wind power generation was lower than usual.
For months campaigners have been urging the government to stop Cambo, to end the UK’s exposure to volatile fossil fuel markets, and instead shift to clean power and energy storage solutions .
In August, Greenpeace discovered that the oil company behind the proposals, Siccar Point, was poised to start work at Cambo before any kind of official permission had been granted . After public outcry at the company seemingly preparing to jump the gun, Siccar Point announced it would delay works to next year .
Greenpeace has written to the government threatening legal action if Cambo is approved, and Friends of the Earth Scotland and campaigning group Uplift has threatened to take the government to court for downplaying its role in the permit process .
Contact the Greenpeace press office: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS
 The Times, September 13, Boris Johnson to support more North Sea drilling despite climate pledge
 Kwasi Kwarteng, Twitter, September 23.
 Stop Cambo: 80% of UK crude oil – which is what Cambo contains – is currently exported and sold on the global market.
 International Energy Agency, Net Zero by 2050, May 2021
 Stop Cambo: In the first phase alone, Cambo’s owners – oil giant Shell and Siccar Point Energy – want to extract up to 170 million barrels of oil, which would generate emissions equivalent to the annual carbon pollution from 18 coal-fired power stations.
 Channel 4 News, John Kerry on Cambo: ““We need to transition in the next 10 years, not extend.”
BBC News, Keir Starmer: “The idea that we have a global conference here at the same time as approving Cambo doesn’t make any sense – it gives off completely the wrong signal.”
 BBC News: Sturgeon urges UK government to reassess Cambo oil field plan
 Greenpeace objects to Cambo in “strongest possible terms”, June 2021
 The Independent, Cambo oilfield work postponed until next year after activists stage protest, August 24
 The Guardian, UK faces legal action over North Sea oilfield exploration plans, July 23
Evening Standard, Campaigners threaten legal action over Cambo oil field, September 1
Artist: Hugo Farmer
Plaque text: Cambo oilfield: Boris Johnson’s monumental climate failure