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Ashita Gona, Climate Nexus, agona@climatenexus.org

Cara Pike, Climate Access, cara@climateaccess.org

Oil, Gas and The Climate: An Analysis of Oil and Gas Industry Plans for Expansion and Compatibility with Global Emission Limits

Investments in Oil and Gas Production Over the Next Five Years Will Lock-In More than 1.5°C of Global Warming. 85 Percent of Global Oil and Gas Expansion Plans are in North America. 

Report is available at ggon.org/OilGasClimate2019

Madrid, Spain – Over the coming five years, the oil and gas sector intends to invest USD 1.4 trillion developing new oil and gas extraction. New expansion approved over this same period risks locking in enough carbon emissions to push warming beyond 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, according to a new report by the Global Gas and Oil Network, supported by Oil Change International; 350.org; Center for Biological Diversity; Center for International Environmental Law; CAN-Rac Canada; Earthworks; Environmental Defence Canada; Fundacin Ambiente y Recursos Naturales:FARN; Global Witness; Greenpeace; Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie); Naturvernforbundet; Observatorio Petrolero Sur; Overseas Development Institute; Platform; Sierra Club; Stand.Earth.

“If your house is on fire you don’t add more fuel.  Expanding production of oil and gas at this moment in history is like the fire department showing up with gas rather than water to save a planet on fire.  No one is saying turn off the taps overnight.  We still use oil and gas today, but we must act now to stop the planned expansion by the oil and gas industry that could lock us into an unsafe climate.” — Tzeporah Berman, International Campaign Director at Stand.Earth.

The report, Oil, Gas and The Climate: An Analysis of Oil and Gas Industry Plans for Expansion and Compatibility with Global Emission Limits, finds that:

  • Carbon emissions from oil and gas in existing fields and mines take the world beyond 1.5°C of warming and nearly exhaust a 2°C carbon budget.
  • Between 2020 and 2024, the oil and gas industry plans to sink USD 1.4 trillion into new extraction projects.
  • 85 percent of the expanded production is slated to come from the United States and Canada over that period. The other countries where the largest expansion is planned are Argentina, China, Norway, Australia, Mexico, UK, Brazil, Nigeria.
  • New financial investment decisions over this five-year period have the potential to unlock more than 148 gigatonnes of carbon emissions (GtCO2) from currently undeveloped reserves before 2050, equivalent to building over 1200 new average U.S. coal-fired power plants.
  • This new production could result in warming beyond 2°C unless the industry rapidly shuts down considerable levels of existing production.
  • Twenty-five companies are responsible for nearly 50 percent of the production to 2050 resulting from new expansion of oil and gas in the next five years. These include supposedly progressive European oil majors such as Shell, BP, Total, Equinor.

“The oil and gas industry is betting big on fracking the Permian and building the infrastructure to export what it extracts. Unfortunately, that expansion is a carbon bomb waiting to explode with those living nearest at the most immediate risk. That’s why communities across the region are uniting to oppose this expansion, and even an oil and gas state like New Mexico is acting to rein in oil & gas methane pollution.”  –  Nathalie Eddy, Earthworks’ CO/NM Field Advocate

The report is the latest in a growing body of work highlighting the critical importance of addressing fossil fuel production in order to limit warming to 1.5°C and meet the full ambition of the Paris Agreement. Most recently, the Production Gap report published by the UN Environment Program (UNEP), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and other leading research organizations found that national governments plan to extract 120 percent more oil, gas and coal in 2030 than is aligned with 1.5°C.

“Oil and gas companies have spent the last five decades lying to the public about the threat of climate change. Now they’re trying to sell themselves as part of the solution. The public isn’t falling for it. We know the only solution in line with the latest science is to stop all new fossil fuel projects and phase-out existing production as soon as possible.” — Jamie Henn, Strategic Communications Director, 350.org and 350 Action

The world can’t afford and doesn’t need more oil and gas development. In addition to locking in  catastrophic climate change — expansion puts countries, communities, workers and investors currently dependent on oil and gas financially at risk.

“Leadership in the face of a climate emergency means no fossil fuel exploration, new expansion, or financing paired with an ambitious and just transition away from oil and gas production. The cost of inaction is immeasurable not only in dollars, but in lives and livelihoods. Failure is not an option.” — Hannah McKinnon, Director, Energy Transitions and Futures Program, Oil Change International

A growing number of nations are restricting extraction, major economic institutions are moving out of fossil fuels, and demand is projected to decline faster than anticipated due to the cost competitiveness and reliability of renewable energy. Meanwhile, jurisdictions leading on climate action are saving money, reducing health and environmental risks, and creating new economic opportunities. For example, in California, there are five times as many jobs in clean energy than in fossil fuels.

The report points to the critical need for governments and institutions to recognize that a climate emergency demands a new standard of climate leadership. This includes implementing bans on licenses, contracts and permits; removing finance and subsidies; and creating and implementing transition plans that consider the needs of workers and communities impacted by fossil fuel development with high-income countries leading the way. Countries like Costa Rica and France have led in banning new licenses, New Zealand has taken partial steps in this direction, and just last month the European Investment Bank committed to phase out all fossil fuel finance.

This echoes the demands of the Lofoten Declaration, signed by over 700 civil society organizations from more than 80 countries affirming that, “it is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of wealthy fossil fuel producers to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development and to manage the decline of existing production.”

“For six decades, oil and gas companies misled consumers, investors and the world about the risks of climate change.  As those risks have turned to grim and growing realities, these companies are pushing a new myth: that the massive expansion of oil and gas production can be reconciled with MEANINGFUL climate action. It cannot. Countries, fossil fuel companies and investors need to take steps now to exit from fossil fuels. It’s time to invest in low-carbon solutions rather than subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and further accelerating the climate crisis.”— Carroll Muffett, President and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law.

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Editor’s note:

This report is by the Global Gas and Oil Network, supported by Oil Change International; 350.org; Center for Biological Diversity; Center for International Environmental Law; CAN-Rac Canada; Earthworks; Environmental Defence Canada; Fundacin Ambiente y Recursos Naturales:FARN; Global Witness; Greenpeace; Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie); Naturvernforbundet; Observatorio Petrolero Sur; Overseas Development Institute; Platform; Sierra Club; Stand.Earth.

Lofoten Declaration here: http://www.lofotendeclaration.org

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