Two more Greenpeace climate protesters have climbed onboard a North Sea oil rig the environmental campaign group has occupied since Sunday in a protest against increased drilling by BP.
The two activists climbed on to the rig in the Cromarty Firth, north of Inverness, at about 9pm on Monday, replacing the two campaigners who first boarded the rig on Sunday night.
Police Scotland said there were no arrests. So far the police have not intervened and did not prevent the exchange of protesters.
Greenpeace accuses BP of hypocrisy by pressing on with its oil drilling while it claims it accepts the goals of the Paris agreement to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C.
The rig was being towed out to BP’s Vorlich field, where the firm hopes to extract 30m barrels of oil, before its journey was halted by the occupation on Sunday.
In a further development on Tuesday, the French oil giant Total announced it had brought a massive North Sea gas field, Culzean, on stream ahead of schedule. Total believes it can extract 1.4tn cubic feet of gas from the field.
The second day of Greenpeace’s occupation began as the Scottish government announced it had missed its statutory target to cut CO2 emissions in 2017 because it had to include other international emissions as part of the European Union’s emissions trading regime.
Although actual emissions from within Scotland fell by 3.3% in 2017 to 40.5 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent, the country’s technical share of overall EU emissions rose by 3.7% to 46.4 MtCO2e that year.
As a result, it missed its annual target to cut emissions by 90% by 2050 under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. That legislation will soon be replaced after the Scottish government accepted a recommendation last month from the UK Committee on Climate Change to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.
The UK government was expected this week to adopt the committee’s recommendation that the UK as a whole is aiming for net zero by 2050.
Greenpeace argues that the UK and Scottish government’s continuing support for increasing oil and gas drilling in British waters significantly undermines those pledges.
It is hypocritical for the UK to promise to cut emissions at home while extracting oil and gas to sell abroad for profit, Greenpeace said. The Scottish government data shows that overall, carbon emissions in the EU are not being cut quickly enough.
Pete, one of the new activists occupying the BP rig, said the UK had to live up to its pledges to achieve net zero emissions. “If ministers are serious about hitting a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target, they should ban all new oil and gas exploration and stop the industry from draining the last drop of oil out of the North Sea,” he said.
The Scottish government is still officially wedded to continued oil and gas extraction, but Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish environment minister, insisted it was committed to dealing with the climate emergency.
“These statistics show that there can be no room for complacency,” she said. “Difficult decisions will have to be made but Scotland is not in the business of taking the easy way out – we are up for the challenge.”