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by Kirsteen Paterson
28 July 2023
Greta Thunberg: Approving Rosebank oil field would be a 'deliberately destructive act'

Greta Thunberg (centre) joins protesters at the offices of Grant Shapps. Pic: Angela Christofilou @protests_photos

Greta Thunberg: Approving Rosebank oil field would be a 'deliberately destructive act'

Greta Thunberg has urged the UK Government to reject the Rosebank oil field in a protest outside the offices of energy secretary Grant Shapps.

Lying 80 miles from Shetland, Rosebank is the largest untapped oil and gas field in UK waters.

Environmental campaigners oppose its development by Norwegian state-owned oil player Equinor, citing the climate crisis. 

A decision by the UK Government had been expected before summer recess but no announcement has yet been made.

Equinor aims to start production at the site in 2027 and could extract 300m barrels of oil there.

Protesting in Westminster, Thunberg said approval for Rosebank would be "deliberately destructive".

UN chief Antonio Guterres has said the planet is entering an "era of global boiling" and scientists expect July 2023 to be the hottest month ever recorded, with temperatures up to -1.7C higher than those above average temperatures from the widespread use of fossil fuels.

Thunberg said: "How can the British Government even consider pressing ahead with new drilling when we can see what the burning of fossil fuels is doing to the climate and to people?

"The extreme weather events being experienced around the world right now is just a taste of what's to come if we don't get off fossil fuels. Given everything that we know and can see with our own eyes, approving Rosebank would be a deliberately destructive act."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said his government is "going to make progress towards net zero" but will do this "in a proportionate and pragmatic way".

Campaign group Uplift claims approval for Rosebank would be unlawful and incompatible with UK climate targets. 

Final approval for the project would come from the government's North Sea Transition Authority, following approvals from Shapps' Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and other relevant bodies. Reports suggested an announcement would be made before summer recess, however officials say no timeline for the decision has been set out.

Lauren MacDonald of the StopRosebank campaign commented: "There is nothing 'proportionate and pragmatic' about opening up new oil fields, to use Rishi Sunak's words."

She went on: "This government's pandering to giant oil companies is holding back the massive expansion we need in cheaper renewables, which is how to lower bills and make sure the UK has an affordable supply of energy that doesn't mess with our climate."

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: "The UK is a trailblazer in its ambitions to reach net zero by 2050 – forging ahead of many other countries and nearly halving emissions since 1990. 

"While we respect the right to protest, the transition to non-fossil forms of energy cannot happen overnight and even when we’re net zero, we still need some oil and gas – the industry also significantly boosts the Scottish economy estimated to support around 90,000 jobs."

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