Week of protest targets Cambridge University sites and fuel stations as Jackdaw gas field licensed
Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cambridge and XR Youth Cambridge have launched a national week of action to protest the newly government-licensed Jackdaw gas field in the North Sea, which is owned Shell.
Campaigners protested at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry and the Newnham Road Shell petrol station as part of a national week of action against the newly government-licensed Jackdaw gas field in the North Sea, which is owned by Shell.
Jackdaw is the largest gas field to be approved by the UK Government since the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that new fossil fuel projects were incompatible with liveable climate limits. Jackdaw’s output will only meet around 1-2 per cent of UK gas demand over its lifetime, but will create the same amount of pollution as half of Scotland’s annual emissions or more than Ghana’s entire annual emissions.
Protestors engaged members of the public and Department of Chemistry staff with a range of leaflets, stickers, placards and banners, in order to draw attention to the Department of Chemistry’s ties to the fossil fuel industry. This includes research into fossil fuel extraction funded by companies such as BP, Shell and Schlumberger. In 2019 and 2021, University of Cambridge scientists from the Department of Chemistry published studies investigating how to reduce seawater corrosion of offshore oil and gas infrastructure. The research was in collaboration with Shell Global Research Centre, and directly benefits Shell’s North Sea fossil fuel projects.
Jenny, one of the protestors, said: “I studied here, and was proud to do so. But now I am ashamed. The climate science is clear: no more fossil fuels. But what is this Department doing? They are taking money from Shell to research into how they can extract yet more fossil fuels. It’s unbelievable! Planet-killing projects like Jackdaw depend on the complicity of scientists and academic institutions, and that includes the Chemistry Department – that is why we are here today.
“There were some really good conversations at the chemistry lab, including those people going inside. They were keen to tell us about their research into renewable energy, but less keen to talk about their financing by Shell. One researcher was quite candid in his response, saying: ‘We accept money from anyone’. It seems that the ethics of the department leaves a lot to be desired.”
Although public purse will pay £210m to subsidise the development of Jackdaw, gas from the field belongs to Shell, not the UK government, so the profits will go directly to Shell’s shareholders. Because Jackdaw is not set to produce gas until 2025, and is far too small to impact global gas prices, it will not lower energy prices for the one in three households who will be in fuel poverty this autumn. Find out more here.
Another protestor said: “It is morally repulsive to deepen the climate crisis by investing in new fossil fuel extraction, especially when we need clean, affordable energy in the face of the cost of living crisis.”
The protestors are demanding that the Department of Chemistry ends all research into fossil fuel extraction and cuts financial ties with fossil fuel companies. They also demand that the UK government stops approving new oil and gas projects, including Jackdaw, and begins a rapid transition to renewable energy, insulating millions of leaky homes, and investing in secure green jobs for current oil and gas workers.
The University of Cambridge was approached for comment.