Charities and campaigners have warned of the implications of the development of the Jackdaw field.
Environmental campaigners have slammed the UK Government’s approval of plans to develop the Jackdaw gas field as ignoring climate science and entrenching reliance on gas.
Despite the energy price crisis and the need to move away from fossil fuels, the UK Government gave the go-ahead to plans to develop the north sea oil field.
The proposal for the Jackdaw field, which holds gas with an unusually high CO2 content, was previously rejected by the environmental regulator on climate grounds, however Shell resubmitted the application earlier this year with only minimal changes.
In 2020, the International Energy Agency said that there should be “no new oil and gas fields approved for development” anywhere in the world to keep within the 1.5C limit of dangerous climate warming.
Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The decision to approve the Jackdaw gas field exposes Boris Johnson's climate leadership rhetoric at COP26 last year as pure greenwash. The UK Government is pouring fuel on the fire of the social and climate crises by deepening our reliance on fossil fuels.
“Approving the Jackdaw field will do nothing to help people who face higher bills in the UK or to tackle the climate crisis. The only people who benefit are executives and shareholders at Shell who are hellbent on destroying the planet for their own profit.
“The UK Government must reverse this approval, stop issuing any new fossil fuel licences and start planning for a managed phase-out of production, with a just transition for workers and communities. It must also do much more to alleviate the suffering of households as the energy price crisis bites, and urgently ramp up retrofits to keep homes warm while helping end reliance on expensive gas.”
UCL research found that new oil and gas licences were incompatible with the UK’s international climate commitments, while peer-reviewed analysis by Oil Change International has found that 40 per cent of existing developed reserves of fossil fuels cannot be extracted to have a 50 per cent chance of staying within 1.5C.
Activists have organised a protest outside the UK Government building in Edinburgh on Thursday to demand the UK Government reverses its decision to approve Shell’s Jackdaw gas field in the North Sea.
Over 3,600 people signed a petition by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Greenpeace and Uplift opposing the field.
Maciej Walczuk, an activist with Stop Jackdaw, said: “The UK Government is using people's rising bills as an excuse to allow Shell to continue profiteering from the climate crisis. We need investments into insulation and a planned transition away from fossil fuels to tackle the climate crisis, not to increase our dependence on them.”
The crucial 1.5C climate limit was enshrined in the Paris Agreement. A growing consensus is emerging on the future of fossil fuels, with the UN General Secretary describing their expansion as 'economic and moral madness' and the IEA and UKCCC calling for production to be limited.
A UK Government spokesman said: “There will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years as we transition to cleaner, lower carbon energy – this ensures we protect British energy security, jobs and industries, without becoming more dependent on foreign imports.
“The North Sea Transition Authority has granted consent to the Jackdaw project, boosting domestic gas supply in the years to come. This was on the basis of the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment & Decommissioning (OPRED) considering the environmental statement of the project and concluding that it will not have a significant effect on the environment.”