'It's a death sentence': Campaigners slam plans to approve Rosebank oil and gas field

Greta Thunberg joins protesters outside the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero Credit: PA

Climate campaigners have slammed a huge fossil fuel extraction project, describing it as a "death sentence".

Regulators are considering approving Norwegian company Equinor's plans to begin using one of the largest reserves of fossil fuels in the region - the Rosebank oil and gas field in the North Atlantic.

It would see up to 500 million barrels of oil extracted over its lifetime with many scientists and campaigners voicing their opposition to the project in recent weeks.

Activists, including Greta Thunberg, said development of the oil field would accelerate the destructive effects of climate change such as the devastating heatwaves and wildfires the world has seen this summer.

Speaking at the Southbank Centre’s Planet Summer festival, Climate activist Tori Tsui said: “There are fires raging across the world, this is the hottest summer ever recorded.

Ati Viviam Villafana, Greta Thunberg, Mya-Rose Craig and Daphne Frias at The Climate Conversation at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Credit: PA

“All the while our energy security and net zero Minister Grant Shapps says that we need to max out our oil and gas reserves. It is a death sentence.”

The government and Offshore Energies UK, which represents UK oil and gas companies, have said extracting fossil fuels in the North Atlantic and North Sea is more environmentally friendly than buying it from other countries because it would save emissions on shipping.

It comes as prime minister confirmed hundreds of new oil and gas licences will be granted in the UK on Monday.

He announced millions of pounds in funding for the Acorn carbon capture project, a joint venture between Shell UK and other companies while on a visit to Aberdeen.

Critics of Rosebank, including shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband, said up to 80% of field's oil would not be sold to the UK.

The North Sea Transition Authority has this month delayed its decision on whether to approve Rosebank, reportedly because of concerns that its operations emissions may not be compatible with the government’s net zero target.

On Friday, the group of activists protested outside the office of Mr Shapps, urging ministers to block its development.

Ms Thunberg, who attended the demonstration, told a packed-out audience in the Royal Festival Hall it was her 258th week of protesting.

When asked how to make sure phasing out fossil fuels is on the agenda at the upcoming climate change conference Cop28, she said: “Raise our voices. I mean, that’s all we can do.

“We’re not the ones in power. The ones in the world with the most powerful voices, with the most resources, are the ones who are destroying the world.”

Ati Viviam Villafaña, from the Arhuaco people of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia, said that if we put all our hopes in stopping climate change at Cop28 we are “wasting our time”.

The hour-and-a-half talk finished with the group unveiling the same pink StopRosebank banner shown at their central London protest on Friday.

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