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Protesters heckle Alok Sharma over new oilfield on eve of COP26

They called him a ‘hypocrite’ and walked out of his speech

Young protesters branded Alok Sharma a “hypocrite” during a speech in Glasgow on Saturday, before walking out in protest at the government’s support for the Cambo oil field.

Sharma was barely a minute into his closing speech at the COY16 youth conference before a young delegate called out: “Alok Sharma you are a hypocrite.”

Video captured at the event shows delegates standing up and leading chants, with one unfurling a “Fridays for Future” flag, before the group walked out to applause and cheers.

Delegates in the lecture theatre at the University of Strathclyde, also chanted: “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now!”

Sharma, who is president of the COP26 climate summit, was giving the closing address at COY16, the UN Climate Change Conference of Youth.

The Cambo oil field, 75 miles west of Shetland, contains more than 800 million barrels of oil – a big enough reserve to sustain 25 years of extraction.

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Credit: Stop Cambo

Drilling could potentially start there next year, subject to approval by the Oil and Gas Authority. However, the UK government also has the power to reject the application.

Lord Deben, the chairman of the Climate Change Committee, has warned that the oil field going ahead could set “an example that will be quoted throughout the world as showing this kind of development is acceptable.”

After his lecture theatre run-in, Sharma was questioned about the government’s support for the development by Andrew Marr on Sunday morning.

“Does allowing the Cambo oil and gas field off Shetland to go ahead now set a good example around the world?” Marr asked.

“That is something that is being considered. There was a consultation inquiry around all of that,” Sharma replied after initially ducking the question.

“I’m not going to go into that particular issue. When there is an announcement, an agreement, of course I’d be very happy to come and talk to you.”

Sharma later said it was “not my decision” whether to stop the oil field going ahead.

Another North sea oil development – the Vorlich oil field, 240km east of Aberdeen – was the subject of legal action by Greenpeace last month. The group unsuccessfully took the government to court over its 2018 decision to grant BP a permit.

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