Greenpeace activists have boarded an oil rig in the Cromarty Firth in protest at plans by BP to drill new oil wells in the North Sea.
Two protesters climbed on to the 27,000-tonne platform as it was being towed out of the firth, which lies north of Inverness, to the Vorlich field at about 6.30pm on Sunday. They unfurled a banner bearing the words “climate emergency”.
Greenpeace said its activists were occupying a gantry on one leg of the rig underneath its main deck, and had enough food for several days.
BREAKING: Two activists are blocking a @BP_plc oil rig from setting out to the North Sea where it intends to drill for 30 million barrels of oil. We're in a #ClimateEmergency - the age of oil is over. RT to show your support! #NoMoreOil
The campaigners urged BP to abandon all its new oil fields because of the unfolding climate crisis, which is being driven largely by CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. They say BP should instead switch to investing in renewables.
The rig, Paul B Loyd Jr, is owned by Transocean and leased to BP for £140,000 a day. It was a Transocean rig operated by BP that caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a statement released by Greenpeace, an activist on the rig called Jo said: “Warm words flow from BP on their commitment to tackling climate change.
“Yet this rig, and the 30m barrels it seeks to drill, are a sure a sign that BP are committed to business as usual, fueling a climate emergency that threatens millions of lives and the future of the living world.”
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, has adopted a tough target set by the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to cut Scotland’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2045, but has not accepted demands to urgently close down North Sea oil fields.
The UK government has not yet accepted the CCC’s net zero target of 2050 for the UK as a whole. The net zero concept allows some burning of fossil fuels, as long as the CO2 is captured and stored underground, or offset by tree planting or similar measures.
The Committee on Climate Change says cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 is necessary, affordable and desirable. Here are some of the actions needed to make that happen:
• Petrol and diesel cars banned from sale ideally by 2030 and 2035 at the latest.
• Quadrupling clean electricity production from wind, solar and perhaps nuclear, plus batteries to store it and connections to Europe to share the load.
• Connection of new homes to the gas grid ending in 2025, with boilers using clean hydrogen or replaced by electric powered heat pumps. Plus, all homes and appliances being highly efficient.
• Beef, lamb and dairy consumption falling by 20%, though this is far lower than other studies recommend and a bigger shift to plant-based diets would make meeting the zero target easier.
• A fifth of all farmland – 15% of the UK – being converted to tree planting and growing biofuel crops and restoration of peat bogs. This is vital to take CO2 out of the air to balance unavoidable emissions from cattle and planes.
• 1.5bn new trees will be needed, meaning more than 150 football pitches a day of new forests from now to 2050.
• Flying would not be banned, but the number of flights will depend on how much airlines can cut emissions with electric planes or biofuels.
Describing the protesters’ actions as irresponsible for putting themselves and others at risk, BP said: “We share the protesters’ concerns about the climate. We support the Paris agreement. And we are working every day to advance the world’s transition to a low carbon future.
“We’re reducing emissions from our own operations – down 1.7 million tonnes last year – improving our products to help our customers reduce their emissions, and creating new low carbon businesses. We are committed to being part of the solution to the climate challenge facing all of us.”