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Prospect of new oil and gas projects off Britain rile activists

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-06-24 09:41
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Environmental activists have reacted with horror to reports that the United Kingdom government is expected to approve new North Sea oil and gas rigs ahead of hosting a crucial global climate change conference.

The projects, which The Times newspaper reports will be located in the Cambo heavy crude oil field, 125 kilometers west of the Shetland Islands, will contribute 150 million barrels of oil a year and comprise eight wells and four water-injection sites in two locations.

The rigs will be active until 2050, which is the year by which, London has said, the UK will be carbon-neutral.

Caroline Rance, a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Scotland, told The Times the proposed project defies all logic, especially coming ahead of November's COP26 conference in Glasgow, where the UK will try to persuade 200 nations and territories to target net-zero carbon emissions and ensure the temperature rise is less than 1.5 C.

"It would be completely indefensible if ministers were to approve this … It is simply not compatible with the science, to go ahead with exploiting these fields, and the fact that it is even being considered shows the current system is not fit for purpose," she said of the project that is predicted to emit 3.8 million metric tons of carbon in its lifetime.

Against the backdrop of a report by the International Energy Agency that says there should be "no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects", the company behind the application, Siccar Point Energy, which is backed by United States investment group Blackstone and petrochemical giant Shell, said it will secure energy supply and jobs.

City A.M. newspaper said the project will begin production in 2025, if it gains approval from the Oil and Gas Authority, the industry regulator that is an agency of the government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The paper quoted a spokesman for that government department saying: "We are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels but we also know there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years."

With the climate crisis increasingly dominating the news, England's teachers have strongly supported the idea of young people learning what they need to get involved.

A survey published in the journal Environmental Education led by the University of Bristol found almost unanimous support among teachers for an action-focused climate change curriculum with environmental issues discussed in all timetable subjects.

The Press Association said more than half of teachers went even further, saying they would support students taking part in green protests at secondary schools.

Paul Howard-Jones, the study's lead author, said: "Teachers want their students to be informed in how they think and what they do about the climate emergency."

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