Campaigners will celebrate Shell abandoning Cambo — but it’s not black and white

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Hell has pulled out of the controversial North Sea Oil Project Cambo. Campaigners Are Opening Up Champagne — But Is It Really That Good?

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Cambo, 75 miles off the coast of the Shetland Islands, was first discovered in 2002 and Shell has been working at the site since 2018. The facility planned there would have pumped out oil and gas for 25 years.

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Apparently, the development became a flashpoint around COP26. Climate campaigners, scientists, Keir Starmer and Nicola Sturgeon all gave it a kick. No wonder Shell now sees it as politically toxic.

Opponents will celebrate. Campaigners claim that emissions from oil produced in the first phase alone would be equivalent to about 18 coal-fired power stations.

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But the implications of exiting the shell aren’t black and white.

Shell had only a 30% interest in Cambo. The main supporter is the private company Siscar. It would probably try to find a more willing partner and the whole thing could still go ahead but with far less transparency if there was a public business involved.

If the combo ends up in the trash, it doesn’t necessarily have a clear benefit for the environment either. Britain still needs oil and gas. Decreasing domestic supply would mean importing it from abroad. It will be harder to track green credentials along the way.

It would also leave Britain on the whim of the international energy market. We’ve seen this year how painful it can be.

To wean itself off fossil fuels, the government needs to supercharge the development of clean energy projects such as wind, nuclear and hydrogen, as it did through the development of COVID vaccines.

Until then, dropping the combos of the world is like dropping a leg from a three-legged stool.

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