On Wednesday afternoon, just before close of business and the four-day Jubilee bank holiday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng snuck out the announcement that he was awarding a gas extraction licence for the North Sea “Jackdaw” gas field to Shell.
The next day, an emergency rally was held outside his Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in Victoria.
Despite the short notice and the holiday, more than a hundred people turned up supporting a variety of campaign and direct action groups, vowing to work together to prevent new oil and gas extraction, as demanded by UN scientists and leaders to avert imminent food shortages and climate collapse.
Overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that new fossil fuel developments mean an uninhabitable future. Unprecedented heatwaves, floods, droughts and crop failures are happening with fast increasing intensity, and yet we are currently only at around 1.1ºC. But the world’s temperature trajectory is already set to exceed 1.5º and any new fossil fuel development will take us much further.
The ‘Jackdaw’ oil field will create carbon emissions equivalent to that of the country of Ghana.
The promise of energy security belies the fact that it takes an average of 28 years from the granting of a licence until fuel is on stream. Shell claim they can get this one going in about three years, but even if that turns out to be possible, we have millions facing fuel poverty in the UK right now.
Properly subsidised renewables could be bringing us cheaper energy in months not years, without the added cost of climate breakdown, food shortages and mass migration, which the UN is predicting will come in just a few years unless we radically alter our present carbon trajectory.
Remember too, that Shell is a privately owned company which will sell to the highest bidder, so energy security and cheaper bills are both false promises.
Last year the Cambo oil field was finally rejected on environmental grounds.
At Thursday’s rally, a coalition of groups including Stop Cambo were representing and promising to fight this new menace. Their language was unequivocal, rebellious and clear. The Jackdaw gas field will face huge civil resistance.
Lauren, from Stop Cambo, gave this moving speech.
Remember this day and this rally – it marks the birth of an important focal point for climate resistance in 2022.