Climate change: Opening the Cambo oil field would be an ineffective response to the energy crisis caused by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – A Scots commentary
The need for democratic countries to quickly wean themselves off the fossil fuels that fund Putin’s war machine has led to further sharp increases and calls for the UK to start producing more of its own oil and gas.
However, the fact remains that the whole world must wean itself off fossil fuels or face an enemy far greater than the Russian despot, despite its nuclear weapons.
Because global warming adds energy equivalent to that of several bombs the size of Hiroshima exploding every second in the atmosphere.
Eventually, this extra energy will wreak havoc on humanity and the planet. Scientists have identified 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming as the point beyond which our climate will begin to become dangerous.
We have already reached 1.1°C, but if carbon emissions can be reduced by 50% by 2030, there is a chance of staying below 1.5°C. The problem is that, as things stand, emissions are expected to increase by 14%.
Environmental groups criticize Shell’s overhaul of Cambo oil field
As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently pointed out, the rush to increase fossil fuel production in response to the Ukraine crisis is “madness”. “Fossil fuel addiction is mutually assured destruction,” he added, referring to a phrase normally used to describe nuclear war.
It is in this spirit that the UK Government should consider any further attempt by oil company Shell to start drilling the Cambo oil and gas field off Shetland which, before it was mothballed, was due to come on stream in 2024 and the last for 25 years.
If the decision is made to move forward in this and other areas, it means a long-term commitment to dump large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, which should be balanced by measures to reduce other emissions by a proportional amount, assuming the government still takes climate change seriously.
A better response to the energy crisis would be a package of measures, such as reducing fuel taxes, encouraging people to generate their own electricity through solar panels and helping to improve insulation , designed to reduce energy costs.
This would have a faster impact on the current crisis than the opening of new oil fields and would not belatedly solve the problem by making a potentially bigger problem worse.