Climate campaigners have reacted with fury after energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced that regulators have said Shell can start exploiting the Jackdaw gas field in the North Sea.
Activists quickly sprang to action and organised two protests on Thursday. They were at government offices in Edinburgh, and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in London.
At the protest in Edinburgh, Caroline Rance of Friends of the Earth Scotland said, “Opening up the Jackdaw gas field would be a reckless move that would further lock Britain into a broken energy system which is driving up energy bills and accelerating the climate crisis.”
“While today’s protest is aimed at the British government, the first minister Nicola Sturgeon must speak out against the Jackdaw field as she rightly did on the controversial Cambo field.”
In London, Tundra from Fossil Free London told Socialist Worker that she felt “frustrated” with the decision that she described as “devastating news.” “This is not just about the people in Britain,” she said. “This is about all those who are already suffering and dying because of climate change,” she said.
Pascal, also from Fossil Free London, told the crowd that Shell has known about climate change from as early as 1981 but lied about it for years. He added that Shell continues to commit violence against those fighting back against the company destroying the planet in countries such as Nigeria.
Grace, a supporter of Just Stop Oil, told Socialist Worker, “This announcement shows that the government’s promises at Cop26 were completely empty. Now is the time to move away from oil and gas, not double down.”
Grace added that more oil and gas projects wouldn’t make people’s bills less or avert the cost of living crisis. “Fossil fuel companies are the ones who will benefit from new infrastructure while we starve. The solution is not to burn gas anymore and move to renewables as soon as possible.”
Protesters held signs that read “Shell makes millions while we freeze” and “New gas won’t lower bills.” There were chants of “Who knew about climate change, Shell knew about climate change”, and “Hey Boris, call 999 gas expansion is a crime.”
Lauren MacDonald from the Stop Cambo campaign told Socialist Worker that the International Energy Agency said that there could be no new fossil fuel infrastructure last year. “With the government now announcing Jackdaw, it’s a slap in the face. It will lead to so much suffering. And it’s a complete lie that it will get us out of the crisis we are in,” she said.
“Jackdaw won’t be producing until 2025. But the government is trying to manipulate us into thinking it’s necessary. The government has chosen the side of Shell, not the people.”
But Lauren also added that ordinary people have the power to fight back. “We delayed the Cambo field, making Shell think twice about investing in it. Greenpeace is already moving to take legal action against the government.
“We’ll keep coming back until it’s impossible to continue with new fossil fuel infrastructure like Jackdaw.”
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