Rebels Add Their Voices To The Stop Rosebank Protest

At 11am on Saturday 7 October 2023, rebels from XR local groups across the region joined Stop Rosebank campaigners and other climate activists at the Newcastle Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle to voice their unwavering resistance against the Rosebank Oil Field.

On Wednesday 27 September, the UK Government gave permission to Equinor, the Norwegian state-backed oil company, to develop Rosebank, which is the UK’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field off the coast of Shetland.

In Newcastle, round 150 campaigners from diverse climate justice groups, including student groups from across the region called on the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reverse the decision to drill the Rosebank Oilfield, calling it ‘an act of vandalism’. Since approving the huge Rosebank oil field, the government have seen campaigners protest across the country during two weeks of resistance to the reckless decision. It was important to raise awareness about Rosebank as many members of the public didn’t seem to be aware of the Rosebank decision, even though they expressed concern about the climate crisis.

Stop Rosebank protests took place around the country, including in Edinburgh where campaigners rallied outside the UK Government building – as well as Aberdeen, London, Sheffield and Cambridge. A protest also happened on Friday 29 September outside the headquarters of Equinor in Oslo, Norway.

Newcastle University Student Jemima (she/her) said “The fight isn’t over! Tens of thousands have spoken out against the Rosebank field, a chorus composed of politicians, scientists, and civil society, vowing to employ their utmost efforts to halt the advancement of this field. Their common angst is rooted in the UK Government’s blatant dismissal of extensive advice and warnings against the Rosebank project. In the words echoed by the International Energy Agency just yesterday, “there should be no new oil and gas extraction for a chance at a liveable future.”

Another climate justice campaigner added, “The grounds for a potential legal challenge against the field’s approval are emerging as it is evident that the UK is not adhering to its own climate targets. This movement, empowered by the triumphs of the past, where giants like Shell and Equinor were compelled to withdraw from Cambo and other projects worldwide, stands resilient and unyielding in the face of this new environmental assault. The climate movement stands as a bulwark, defending the environment, and showing its strength by halting such destructive projects before. We have done it before, we will do it again.”

If you’re not sure what Rosebank is or why this decision is so important, here are some facts for you:

Rosebank is the biggest undeveloped oil and gas field in the North Sea.

Rosebank, backed by a £3.75 billion tax break offered by the UK Government to Equinor for its development, represents a bad deal for the UK public. This alarming figure implies that UK taxpayers will shoulder a staggering 91% of the development cost. This grave fiscal burden does not ameliorate the citizens’ plight, as 80% of the oil extracted from the field is destined for export, nullifying any hope for a reduction in domestic energy bills.

So let’s be clear: Rosebank’s oil will not lower UK fuel bills or boost UK energy security. Ninety percent of its reserves are oil, not gas (ref: Rystad Energy Resource Estimates). Like 80% of all North Sea oil, the majority of Rosebank’s oil will likely be put in tankers and exported for refining overseas (ref: National Statistics. Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES): petroleum., 2022). Burning Rosebank’s oil and gas would produce over 200 million tonnes of CO2, which would be more than the combined annual CO2 emissions of all 28 low-income countries in the world. (ref: World Bank. CO2 emissions, 2020)

Find out more about Rosebank and other projects like the Cambo Oil Field at https://www.stopcambo.org.uk/.