The controversial Cambo oil field off the coast of Shetland should not be given the green light, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The Prime Minister expressed his strongest position so far on the proposed development, saying: “I do not think the Cambo should get the green light.”
Sturgeon had previously called on the British government to reconsider the plans, amid growing concern over the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.
But speaking on Holyrood, as she updated MSPs at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, Mrs Sturgeon said: “I do not think we can continue to extract new oil and gas forever, that is why we have moved away from the policy of maximum economic recovery.
“And I do not think we can continue to give the green light to new oil fields. So I do not think the Cambo should get the green light.”
She emphasized, however, that it was the British Government that had the final approval of the development, and said by calling for its reassessment that she had “outlined a process by which one could reach a different decision”.
The Prime Minister said: “I have put forward a proposal for a climate assessment and I think the presumption would be that Cambo could not and should not pass any strict climate assessment.”
Labor’s Monica Lennon had raised the issue in Holyrood on Tuesday, saying to the prime minister: “There is no rigorous climate change test that Cambo can possibly pass, so the prime minister must do more than ask the British government to simply reconsider the proposed oil field.”
She urged Sturgeon to “oppose Cambo on the strongest possible terms and give the political leadership that has been lacking”.
Sturgeon’s comments were welcomed by environmentalists, with Mary Church of Friends of the Earth Scotland saying: “We welcome the Prime Minister’s recognition that there is no credible climate test that the Cambo oil field could ever pass.
“This is an important step forward for the Scottish Government’s position, which must now result in clear opposition to all new fossil fuel projects.”
Sam Chetan Welsh, Greenpeace UK’s political adviser, said: ‘We welcome the Prime Minister, who is showing leadership, listening to science and saying no to the Cambo oil field, which has no place in the transition to Scotland’s low emissions future.
“Hopefully, on top of the many similar comments from scientists, energy experts and leaders around the globe, this clarifies the situation for the Prime Minister.”
But the Scottish Conservatives accused the Prime Minister of having “completely abandoned Scotland’s oil and gas industry”.
Holyrood energy spokesman Liam Kerr said the move was a “desperate attempt” to satisfy the Greens, who are in a co-operation agreement with the Scottish Government.
Sir. Kerr said: “Contributed by Labor, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she is against the Cambo field and the thousands of Scottish jobs it would protect.
“By refusing to support Cambo’s development, the SNP has left the industry they once mentioned as the cornerstone of their economic argument for independence.
“Only the Scottish Conservatives are resolute in standing up for the livelihoods of oil and gas workers in Scotland when we move to net zero.”
But the Scottish Greens’ climate spokesman Mark Ruskell welcomed “the clarity of the Prime Minister”.
He added: “She is absolutely right that oil and gas expansion is foolishness during the pressing climate crisis. That is why Scotland, with the Greens in government, is investing in alternatives, expanding renewable energy and decarbonising housing and transport, creating new jobs along the way.”
However, the industry organization Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said that without the Cambo development, the UK would have to import oil and gas from other countries – giving it a larger CO2 footprint.
OGUK’s external relations director Jenny Stanning said: “As we accelerate greener energies to ensure Scotland achieves net zero by 2045, we will still need oil and gas as these technologies scale up to prevent light from going out.
“Stopping our own production means that we will simply have to import it from Russia, Qatar and other countries at a greater cost to taxpayers, jobs and the environment.
“All identified oil and gas fields such as Cambo are already included in the net zero plans prepared by the Climate Change Committee, the Oil and Gas Authority and the Office for Budget Responsibility.”
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