MORE than 60 charities, unions and community groups have urged Nicola Sturgeon to "explicitly condemn" proposals for a huge new oil operation off the coast of Shetland.

Plans for the Cambo oilfield have met with fierce opposition since they emerged earlier this year. It's thought there are around 800 million barrels of oil at the site, 75 miles out to sea, with production spanning up to 25 years.

The UK Government, which retains authority over the matter, granted an exploration licence 20 years ago and, subject to approval by Westminster's Oil and Gas Authority, drilling could begin next year. Sturgeon has said the permit there "must be reassessed", given the climate crisis, and that her government's forthcoming energy strategy will oppose unlimited extraction of fossil fuels as "not consistent" with climate obligations.

As the clock runs down to the start of COP26 in Glasgow on Sunday, the multi-member Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) has written to the First Minister urging her to ask Boris Johnson to reject Cambo and all new oil and gas projects.

The letter requests that Sturgeon make the intervention "quickly, clearly and publicly".

Caroline Rance of Friends of the Earth Scotland, which is part of SCCS, said: "The First Minister has now acknowledged that unlimited drilling for oil and gas is incompatible with the climate crisis, and has said that the Scottish Government will end their support for drilling every last drop of oil and gas from the North Sea. The reality of the climate crisis is so devastating and the consequences of approving this field are so grave, that the First Minister must now address the elephant in the room and strongly reject Cambo.

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"Climate science is clear that there can be no new oil and gas projects. Instead, we need a managed phase-out from the North Sea in line with keeping global temperature rises to 1.5ºC, while scaling up renewables and ensuring a just transition for affected workers and communities."

And Oxfam Scotland head Jamie Livingstone stated: "Climate change is already wreaking havoc around the world and continuing to burn more and more fossil fuels will only result in more deaths, more poverty and more suffering.

“The fact that on the eve of COP26 the Prime Minister is still weighing up whether or not to green light an enormous new oilfield at Cambo is utterly inconceivable, incompatible with the Government's stated climate ambitions and inconsistent with the need to inspire much faster global climate action.

“Now is the time for the First Minister to send an unequivocal message to the Prime Minister on Cambo – not in our backyard, not on my watch and not in Scotland’s name."

While a report from the UK Committee on Climate Change said Scotland had decarbonised more quickly than any G20 nation, Sturgeon has conceded that the Scottish Government has failed to meet its last three annual environmental targets.

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On a transition away from fossil fuels, she said: "Tens of thousands of jobs are dependent, currently, on oil and gas production. Those jobs and the people in them matter. And, of course, much of our energy use is still catered for by oil and gas.

"For countries like ours, with significant remaining reserves of oil and gas, it is tempting to tell ourselves that for both economic and energy reasons we must keep exploring for and extracting oil and gas until the last possible moment. That, in my view, would be fundamentally wrong.

"It’s an approach that cannot be justified in the face of the climate emergency, but it can’t be justified economically either."