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Loophole allows North Sea projects to avoid climate impact checks

June 28, 2021

The Guardian:

Prospective oil projects in the North Sea with the capacity to produce more than a billion barrels will avoid a new test designed to assess their impact on the climate crisis, the Observer has learned.

In a development that has angered environmental campaigners, it has emerged that proposed new developments representing some 1.7bn barrels of oil will not have to undergo the forthcoming “climate compatibility checkpoint”, designed to determine whether they are consistent with the government’s climate commitments.

The test will be applied before projects are given an initial licence. But the government has confirmed that previously licensed projects will not have to meet it. Campaigners described this as a major loophole that risks undermining the UK’s position before crucial Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow this year.

It comes as ministers face mounting pressure over the Cambo heavy crude field off the coast of the Shetland, which could be given approval before Cop26 begins. The oilfield is expected to operate until 2050. Campaigners say the project contradicts recommendations made by the International Energy Agency, which has called for “no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects”.

The Cambo project is among those that will not have to pass through the government’s proposed climate checkpoint. Data held by the Oil and Gas Authority confirms there are many other schemes in the same position.

[Michael Savage]

More: Green groups’ fury at loophole in new North Sea oil test

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