With just a few months before its UK government licence expires, Cambo looks increasingly unlikely to proceed.
The industry has warned that leaving British oil in the ground will simply mean more imports from overseas, resulting in more carbon emissions, rather than less.
Therefore, in the absence of Cambo, the challenge presented to government is to ensure this does not happen and that renewables fill the breach instead.
The IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol said that “the scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal… make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced”. But he added that a “historic surge in clean energy investment” could create millions of jobs and increase economic growth.
COP26: The economic case for tackling climate change is stronger than ever but f…
The market in Britain is about to dramatically diminish and the same is happening to the economic case for new oil fields, particularly given the prospect of governments imposing further restrictions on fossil fuels.
Investors hoping for a return over decades may decide the risk is too great. And, as that feeling grows, ‘investor flight’ becomes increasingly likely as people seek to avoid being left holding assets that cost billions, but are worth little.
The oil industry needs to work with government to bring about its transformation into a renewable energy industry. If it does not, it risks a sudden collapse with serious consequences for thousands of workers.
We are beginning to see the future. Sticking our head in the sand and ignoring humanity’s “greatest challenge” would be a catastrophic mistake.