If the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, there needs to be a dramatic shift towards renewable energy. If we continue burning fossil fuels the way we do today, the world may warm by as much as 5 degrees. Changing that possible future means leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
Unfortunately they are hugely profitable, and those in possession of fossil fuel reserves have every intention of exploiting them. A recent study for Greenpeace identified 14 energy projects that, if they all go ahead, will increase global CO2 emissions by 20% between them. It is worth naming these projects, because to put it simply, the liveability of the planet may rest with the governments and corporations behind these schemes.
- China’s coal production: China plans to develop the coal production of its Northern territories, increasing coal production by a further 620 million tonnes.
- Australia’s coal exports: the country plans to increase coal exports by 408 million tonnes a year above 2011 levels, creating 1,200 million tonnes of CO2 emissions
year once the coal is burned.
- Arctic oil: As climate change warms the arctic, there is a rush to exploit its newly accessible resources. Arctic oil and gas could add 520 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2020, and 1,200 million tonnes by 2030.
- Iraqi oil: After years of underinvestment, Iraq is ramping up its oil production by a further 4.9 million barrels a day by 2035.
- Canada’s tar sands: Already one of the most damaging environmental projects on earth, the current plan calls for a tripling of production. By 2035 this would add 706 million tonnes of CO2 to global emissions every year.
- US coal: All the attention is on US shale, but the plans to expand coal production through the Pacific North West will ultimately be more damaging to the climate.
- Brazil’s offshore oil: Brazil’s offshore oil fields were the biggest oil find in the Western hemisphere for decades. Bringing them online will turn Brazil into a major oil producer and a big new source of CO2 emissions.
- Africa’s gas: Gas production in Africa is expected to rise from 64 billion cubic metres
in 2015 to 250 billion cubic metres in 2035, adding hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 in the process.
- Indonesian coal: Plans major investment in coal exports from Borneo, adding 460 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
- US offshore oil: The planned increase in offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will produce the same emissions as the whole of France every year.
Here they are on the map. You won’t be able to see all the detail at this scale, but see the Point of No Return report for the full size version.