11 june 2019

Greenpeace North Sea oil rig protest prompts injunction

Group says it will continue protest at company’s continued drilling despite climate crisis

Severin Carrell Scotland editor, The Guardian, June 11, 2019

BP has served Greenpeace with an injunction to prevent its climate protesters continuing their occupation of an oil rig just offshore in Scotland.

Two Greenpeace activists boarded the platform in the Cromarty Firth north of Inverness on Sunday night in protest at BP’s continued drilling in the North Sea despite the climate crisis.

Two other activists replaced them on Monday night, taking possession of a derrick below the main deck of the platform.

Greenpeace said BP had gone to court in Scotland to secure an interdict, a Scottish legal version of an injunction, ordering the activists to leave the 27,000-tonne rig. The campaign group said oil workers on the platform had attempted to lower a copy of the injunction to them in a bucket.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the organisation would continue with its protest. “BP have spent billions lobbying governments to prevent action on climate change and now they want to try to silence peaceful protest. But we’re in a climate emergency and they’re fueling that. We have to act,” he said.

“Companies like BP cannot continue to drill new oil wells. Their actions threaten the lives of millions and the future of our living planet. We won’t be gagged by a corporate injunction trying to silence us. The future of our planet is at stake.”

Police Scotland have not made any arrests and have not yet intervened, allowing the exchange of protesters on Monday night.

Greenpeace accuses BP of hypocrisy by pressing on with its oil drilling while it claims that it accepts the goals of the Paris agreement to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C.

The rig was being towed out to BP’s Vorlich field, where the firm hopes to extract 30m barrels of oil, before its journey was halted by the occupation on Sunday.

The French oil giant Total announced on Tuesday that it had brought a huge North Sea gas field, Culzean, on stream ahead of schedule. Total believes it can extract 1.4tn cubic feet of gas from the field.

The second day of Greenpeace’s occupation began as the Scottish government announced it had missed its statutory target to cut CO2 emissions in 2017 because it had to include other international emissions as part of the EU’s emissions trading regime.

Although actual emissions from within Scotland fell by 3.3% in 2017 to 40.5 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent, the country’s technical share of overall EU emissions rose by 3.7% to 46.4 MtCO2e that year.

As a result, it missed its annual target to cut emissions by 90% by 2050 under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. That legislation will soon be replaced after the Scottish government accepted a recommendation last month from the UK Committee on Climate Change to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.

The UK government was expected this week to adopt the committee’s recommendation that the UK as a whole aim for net zero by 2050.

Greenpeace argues that the UK and Scottish government’s continuing support for increasing oil and gas drilling in British waters significantly undermines those pledges.

Pete, one of the new activists occupying the BP rig, said the UK had to live up to its pledges to achieve net zero emissions. “If ministers are serious about hitting a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target, they should ban all new oil and gas exploration and stop the industry from draining the last drop of oil out of the North Sea,” he said.

The Scottish government is still officially wedded to continued oil and gas extraction, but Roseanna Cunningham, the environment minister, insisted it was committed to dealing with the climate emergency.

“These statistics show that there can be no room for complacency,” she said. “Difficult decisions will have to be made, but Scotland is not in the business of taking the easy way out. We are up for the challenge.

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