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Activists end climate protest in Cromarty Firth

By Staff Reporter

A Greenpeace campaigner holds a banner while floating in front of the rig on day 11 of the protest. Picture: Greenpeace
A Greenpeace campaigner holds a banner while floating in front of the rig on day 11 of the protest. Picture: Greenpeace

A 12-DAY stand-off in the Cromarty Firth was brought to a close as climate campaigners ended an international protest against oil giant BP.

Greenpeace activists first climbed on board the 27,000-tonne Transocean rig Paul B Loyd Junior, contracted to BP, on June 9 and called for an end to drilling for new oil wells.

The 27,000-tonne rig was on its way to the Vorlich field in the North Sea but the protesters delayed its passage through the firth and demanded a swift move to renewable energy production.

On June 20, to mark the final day of action, Greenpeace activists delivered what they called 'People’s Climate Injunctions' to BP headquarters in Aberdeen and London calling on the company and the industry to “immediately end the search for new fossil fuels and start a rapid and just transition to become 100 per cent renewable energy companies”.

A number of arrests were made during the action, which ended with campaigners protesting outside BP fuel stations including one in Inverness.

Over the course of five days, three sets of climbers prevented the rig from leaving the Cromarty Firth before a further stand-off in the North Sea between the rig and the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, which prevented the rig from reaching the drill site, including through a Greenpeace swimmer blocking the rig's path.

BP initially said it recognised the activists' right to peaceful protest but said the actions of this group were irresponsible, potentially putting themselves and others unnecessarily at risk.

A spokesperson said: “We share the protesters’ concerns about the climate. We support the Paris agreement. And we are working every day to advance the world’s transition to a low-carbon future.

“We’re reducing emissions from our own operations – down 1.7 million tonnes last year – improving our products to help our customers reduce their emissions, and creating new low-carbon businesses. We are committed to being part of the solution to the climate challenge facing all of us.”

But Greenpeace argued the company was paying lip service to the climate emergency, saying "we already have more oil and gas than we can safely burn under the Paris climate agreement if we want to limit catastrophic climate change. Yet BP maintains its desire to both explore for more oil and expand its oil and gas production."

John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace UK, added: “For the past 12 days we’ve seen what one Greenpeace ship and a handful of dedicated activists can achieve in the face of a giant climate-wrecking company. But they weren’t alone. There’s a movement of millions calling on companies like BP to clean up their act and truly address the climate emergency.”

The organisation's protests in the Cromarty Firth were mirrored with further action taking place across the world, including in Germany, the US and Austria.

A spokeswoman for the Port of Cromarty Firth, which operates the waters in the firth, said: "We are pleased that this protest has been concluded safely, for both our customers and the protesters."

Gareth Wynn, stakeholder and communications director at industry body Oil and Gas UK, said: “There are no winners as a result of this stunt, which both put safety at risk and failed to produce any solutions to how we can achieve the net-zero future we all want to see.

"The arguments from Greenpeace are fundamentally flawed and sadly fail to recognise the reality that prematurely shutting down the North Sea will only increase the UK’s reliance on imports from across the world.

“We live in a world with ever-growing demand for energy which at the same time needs an ever-reducing carbon footprint. Our industry is committed to help find practical solutions to one of the biggest challenges we will face. It’s time for deeds not words and we’d encourage anyone with a serious interest to work with us.”

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