New fields totalling an extra 800 million barrels of oil have been brought into production in the last two years, according to the report by Friends of the Earth Scotland and Oil Change International.
The extra oil will create climate pollution equivalent to running Longannet, Scotland’s last coal power station, for more than 35 years, the organisations said.
The report comes just weeks before the UK hosts crucial COP26 international climate talks in Glasgow and decisions are due on new onshore and offshore oil fields.
It calls on the UK and Scottish governments to stop all new oil and gas field developments, end financial support for the fossil fuel industry and redirect investment and policy support to renewable energy.
There are 6.5 billion barrels of oil in UK fields that are currently producing or in development, the report said. Another 13.5 billion barrels is in fields earmarked for future development.
But the authors said there could not be new oil and gas developments in the UK if we are to meet our commitment to the Paris climate agreement goal of limiting dangerous warming to 1.5C.
There must be a rapid phase out of oil and gas production over the next decade, they said, along with increasing renewables and a just transition for affected workers and communities.
The International Energy Agency warned in May 2021 that there could be no new oil and gas projects if the world was to meet its climate goals.
Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that people had caused “unprecedented” and “irreversible” change to the climate. It said the 1.5C temperature increase could be reached by 2031.
In response, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was a “code red for humanity”. It must, he said, “sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet”.
Earlier this week, more than 2,000 academics called on governments across the world to end new fossil fuel expansion and phase out existing production through a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Today’s report said the UK and Scottish Governments must reject all new developments, including the Cambo oil field off Shetland which contains 800 million barrels of oil and gas.
But current UK law for offshore wells is to maximise economic recovery – obliging operators to extract all the oil and gas in a licence area.
Onshore, operators have a responsibility under the licences to produce oil and gas as efficiently as possible.
Plans for long-term oil production at West Newton-A in East Yorkshire are due to be decided at the end of this month. Another production project, at Biscathorpe in Lincolnshire, could be decided later this year.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s climate and energy campaigner, Caroline Rance, described oil and gas as “accelerants for the climate fire engulfing the world.:
“Writing the rules for the benefit of fossil fuel companies and encouraging major polluters to keep on drilling for decades to come cannot possibly be reconciled with the action that is needed to cut climate pollution.”
“This toxic combination of political and financial support means the UK now has 6.5 billion barrels of oil and gas in fields that are already open and being drilled, which is more than enough to see us through the transition to clean renewable energy.
“Every time the UK opens a new oil field we get further away from a well-planned just transition.
“Oil and gas production must be phased out in a managed way over the next decade, with investment and support redirected to scaling up renewables across the country and ensuring a just transition so that every worker can retrain and move into a good green job.”
Kelly Trout, research co-director at Oil Change International said:
“The current UK policy of maximizing oil and gas extraction is a plan to maximize climate chaos and injustice globally.
“Staying below 1.5 degrees requires a rapid wind down of oil and gas production and it’s wealthy producers like the UK that have the means to move first and fastest.”
Updated: correction of typo “could” to “could not”