Climate change: Opening Cambo oil field would be an ineffective response to energy crisis caused by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine – Scotsman comment

Energy prices had been rising even before Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

The need for democratic countries to rapidly wean themselves off the fossil fuels that fund Putin’s war machine has led further sharp increases and calls for the UK to start producing more of its own oil and gas.

However, it remains the case that the whole world needs to wean itself off fossil fuels or face a much greater enemy than the Russian despot, despite his nuclear weapons.

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For global warming is adding energy equivalent to several Hiroshima-sized bombs detonating every second to 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 start to become dangerous.

We have already reached 1.1C, but if carbon emissions can be reduced by 50 per cent by 2030, there is a chance to stay within 1.5C. The problem is that, as things stand, emissions are set to rise by 14 per cent.

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Environmental groups criticise Shell's reported Cambo oil field rethink

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently pointed out, the rush to increase production of fossil fuels in response to the Ukraine crisis is “madness”. “Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction,” he added, referencing a phrase normally used to describe nuclear war.

Global warming is adding energy equivalent to several nuclear bombs detonating every second to the atmosphere (Picture: Three Lions/Getty Images)

It is with this in mind that the UK Government should consider any renewed attempts by oil company Shell to start drilling the Cambo oil-and-gas field off Shetland which, before it was shelved, had been expected to come on stream in 2024 and last for 25 years.

If the decision is taken to go ahead with this and other fields, that means a long-term commitment to throw large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, which would need to be balanced by steps to reduce other emissions by a commensurate amount, assuming the government still takes climate change seriously.

A better response to the energy crisis would be a package of measures, such as lowering fuel duty, giving incentives for people to generate their own power through solar panels, and providing help to improve insulation, designed to reduce energy costs.

This would have a swifter impact on the current crisis than opening up new oil fields and would not belatedly address the problem by making a potentially bigger one worse.

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