MORE than 4500 people have signed a petition calling on the UK Government to stop a huge new oil field off the coast of Shetland. 

Friends of the Earth (FoE) released an open letter to Boris Johnson calling for him to stop the opening of the new oil field due to the “devastating” environmental impact. 

And, at point of publication, over 4500 people have signed the open letter, with the target being extended from 5000 to a hopeful 10,000 signatures.

The Cambo oil field, co-owned by Siccar Point Energy and Shell, is due to start drilling in 2022, if they are given permission by the Oil and Gas Authority. 

READ MORE: Cambo oil field: What does it mean for climate targets?

According to FoE, the firms plan to start by drilling for 150 million barrels of oil -  equivalent to the annual pollution from 16 coal-fired power stations.

The letter calls for the government to move away from oil and gas exploration and instead focus on a just transition. 

The letter reads: “The climate impacts of opening this new oil field would be devastating. In the first phase alone, developers want to extract 150 million barrels of oil; the emissions from which are equivalent to running a coal power station for 16 years. 

“That is just the beginning. The field is expected to operate until 2050 - the point by which your government has committed to reaching net zero emissions.”

The National:

The letter points out that the world will be looking to the UK as hosts of the UN climate talks in Glasgow later this year and that approving the Cambo field will send a clear message the UK is “not serious about climate action and not willing to do its part to phase out support for oil and gas”. 

It continues: “The International Energy Agency has stated that to meet the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement, there should be no more development of new oil, gas, or coal. 

“Further, the recent Climate Change Committee assessment clearly laid out that current UK policies are far from delivering the UK’s climate goals. 

The National:

READ MORE: Greens call for an end to subsidies for oil and gas

“The amount of oil and gas in already operating fields in the UK will exceed our share of emissions in relation to the Paris climate goals. The world cannot afford to open new fossil fuel frontiers.”

The letter then urges the government to block Cambo and all new fossil fuel developments. 

It said: “It’s time to end your support for drilling every last drop of oil and gas and commit instead to a rapid and fair energy transition.

“With the right policy support, the UK could create three jobs in clean energy for every oil and gas job at risk. We need a clear, credible plan to wind down production and deliver a just transition that is driven by oil and gas workers, their unions and affected communities.

“This must start with saying no to Cambo.”

The National:

Caroline Rance, climate and energy campaigner at FoE Scotland, said: “Burning fossil fuels is the key driver of climate breakdown and every extra barrel of oil and gas produced speeds us closer to greater devastation.

“The huge response to the open letter shows the public are, once again, ahead of their governments on climate issues. It would be completely indefensible for the UK Government to approve this development, and would further damage their credibility on climate action ahead of the UN climate conference COP26 later this year.”

READ MORE: Tories' failure to understand basic reality of oil and gas is no laughing matter

Katy Heidenreich, Oil and Gas UK’s supply chain and operations director, said: “The UK offshore oil and gas industry is changing and applying low carbon thinking to all its projects, including the Shetland-based Cambo project, to support the transition to greener, cleaner energy. 

“This Cambo project is not a new development but one that has been in the planning process since the government granted its exploration licence back in 2001.

“Bringing projects to the development stage is a lengthy process involving rigorous assessment of all aspects, including environmental management, safety, decommissioning responsibilities and extensive engagement with all stakeholders to take account of societal concerns.

"Through the North Sea Transition Deal, recently agreed with government, the offshore sector is using its 50 years of energy expertise to ensure the UK hits its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

A Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) spokesperson said: “The original licensing consent for the Cambo oil field dates back to 2001. The Secretary of State is not involved in the decision whether to grant consent to Cambo oil field – this will be taken by the Oil and Gas Authority, who are ultimately responsible.

“While we are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels, we also know there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years, as recognised by the independent Climate Change Committee.”

You can see the open letter in full here.