We're honoured and excited to have Lauren MacDonald, Campaigner with the Stop Cambo campaign, sharing thoughts on the experience of successfully organsing against a major oil field, and what's urgently needed on the road ahead.
Image credit: Will Gibson (@williamgibsongla)
Last year, I was part of the successful campaign to stop the Cambo oil field.
In December 2021, after our relentless campaigning, Shell (the field’s joint owner alongside Siccar Point Energy) decided not to go ahead with Cambo. Shortly after, the project, which would extract 170 million barrels of oil if it were approved, was officially put on hold by Siccar Point. We had won: we actually stopped an oil field!
However, we are only at the beginning of a long, relentless battle. Since then, we have heard the news that the UK government wants to fast-track at least another six oil and gas fields for approval by the end of this year. Not only that, Shell is actively reconsidering going ahead with Cambo. Now is not really the time to celebrate — it is the time to learn from our successes and get organised on a much bigger scale.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so incredibly proud of the beautiful resistance displayed by the climate justice movement. The Stop Cambo campaign can serve as a symbol of hope as we push forward in our now desperate fight for life on earth, but we cannot let our guards down. In January, despite recent widespread public backlash against Cambo, the UK government quietly gave the green light to another development, the Abigail oil field. And in the next two to three months, the government wants to approve the Jackdaw gas field, another of Shell’s reckless pursuits.
The UK public were behind us loud and clear. We communicated that new oil and gas fields absolutely cannot go ahead, and the people agreed. In the context of the UK hosting COP26, continuing alarm bells from the scientific community, and extreme weather events devastating lives and ecosystems all over the world, it is no wonder that it became common sense that the UK government absolutely must not give the green light to the Cambo oil field. Yet despite this shift in public attitude towards new oil and gas developments, the UK government and the oil and gas industry continue their relentless pursuit of profit. Boris Johnson and his government, if unchallenged, would continue to plunder the earth’s resources until climate catastrophe hits them in the face. Make no mistake: oil and developments will not go away on their own. We need to intervene — that much is a moral imperative.
As I write this on the 27th of March, it is 18ºc in Glasgow. The city’s average temperature in March is 4.6°c. We are without a doubt already experiencing the destabilisation of nature, but we must continue to act, even if out of desperation. Despite how hard it is to carry the weight of this violence, we must hold each other, lift each other up and share the burden widely, because backing down is not an option if we are to have any chance of survival. I seriously am not prepared to let the UK government get away with approving any new oil or gas fields.
I would love for you to not only believe we can shut down these new developments, but actively join me in the fight to make this happen. It will not happen without us.
Recent favourite reads from Lauren:
Overcoming Burnout by Nicole Rose
This book has been absolutely imperative to my recovery from the psychological and physical manifestations of burnout and trauma related to my campaigning. I would recommend it to all activists. It really taught me to work within the boundaries of doing everything I healthily can (at least somewhat), rather than constantly pushing my capacities to the max. Doing the latter has messed with my body and my mind too many times.
And two beautiful, radical works of fiction with themes grounded in nature that have helped me unplug from the noise recently whilst still giving me valuable perspectives on our connection with nature:
The Overstory by Richard Powers
A Psalm for the Wild-built by Becky Chambers
Below you'll find these titles along with a list of great books to deepend knowledge about climate justice, spark visions of what a just transition could look like. and inspire hearts to take meaningful, sustainable action.
A first step in getting involved with the Stop Cambo campaign is to attend their welcoming call on Wednesday 30th March. Info and sign-up HERE! If you can't make that (or you're seeing this past the date) fear not. Follow the Stop Cambo campaign on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Facebook for updates on ways of joining in!
For more books on climate justice, check out the following book lists, blogs and videos: