A COALITION of climate experts and environmental campaigners have called on the UK Government to “resolutely reject” plans by Shell to significantly develop a new North Sea oil field.

The Cambo heavy crude field off the coast of Shetland contains more than 800 million barrels of oil. In its first phase, the project expects to extract 150-170 million barrels — the burning of which would create emissions equivalent to operating 16-18 coal-fired power stations for a year.

If approved, the Cambo extension would be producing oil and gas until 2050 if it begins operations from 2025. Scotland has committed to becoming carbon net zero by 2045.

The project is 70% owned by private equity firm, Siccar Point Energy, and 30% by Shell.

The International Energy Agency has warned that no new oil and gas fields should be developed, global warming is to be limited to 1.5C.

Dr James Hansen, a leading expert on climate change, has joined forces with groups representing young people, parents and activists across the UK – called for ministers to reject the plans to ramp up oil extraction near Shetland.

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The 14 groups have pointed to what they claim is a failure by Shell and Siccar Energy to acknowledge the impact on the climate from burning oil and gas extracted from the Cambo field in the environmental statement, handed over as part of the plans.

The regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority, part of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEISS), will decide whether to approve or reject the plans, which come just months before the UK is due to host the crucial UN climate conference in Glasgow.

Dr Hansen said: “The UK Government simply cannot aspire to international leadership on climate if its ministers blithely press forward on major fossil fuel projects.

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“We are already well above the safe level of global atmospheric CO2 – witness the near-overtopping of numerous atoll-island nations and the recent heatwaves and fires in Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon, California, and Australia.

“This implies that the major emitting nations need to get their act together, without further delay, to ensure that all fossil fuels within their reach bear their true cost to society, including their imposition on future generations and the environment. Indeed, we are demanding the same in the US.”

Ryan Morrison, Friends of the Earth Scotland just transition campaigner, said: “The UK Government should be sitting down with people and communities who work in oil and gas to develop a plan of how we can rapidly transition away from these industries in a way that is fair and brings their skills and experience to renewables and decommissioning.

“With the right policy and investment, three times as many green jobs can be created than currently exist in these polluting fossil fuel industries. “Instead we see the Government in lockstep with big polluters to keep on drilling and delaying the necessary transition away from oil and gas.”

Last month, appearing at a Westminster committee, the UK Government’s Climate Change Minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “In terms of oil, it’s not a new licence, there are no new licences this year.

“This is an extension of an existing oil field and the OGA (Oil and Gas Authority) is responsible for managing the licensing system for oil fields.”

A spokesman for the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “We are working hard to drive down demand for fossil fuels but we also know there will continue to be ongoing demand for oil and gas over the coming years.”