Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Analysis: Fossil Fuel Exploration and the Green Climate Fund

Oil Change International & Overseas Development Institute, December 2014

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At the end of the first week of UNFCCC climate talks in Lima, Oil Change International and Overseas Development Institute released a new analysis shining a light on the disparity between climate finance pledged to the Green Climate Fund and massive public support for exploration of new fossil fuels.

The analysis shows public support from rich countries (so-called Annex II countries) for fossil fuel exploration totals some $26.6 billion per year, while pledges to the Green Climate Fund from those same countries come in at just over $9.5 billion.

The billions in public support for fossil fuel exploration comes amidst warnings from scientists that some eighty percent of existing fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned in order to keep global warming below the internationally agreed limit of 2°C.

“Spending public money on exploration for new fossil fuel reserves flies in the face of not just climate science, but common sense. We cannot afford to burn the vast majority of the fossil fuels already in proven reserves, so spending money to find more is a waste of public resources and a threat to our planet,” said David Turnbull, Campaigns Director at Oil Change International. “While we applaud the initial steps by rich countries to achieve the $10 billion goal for initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund, we know that support will be severely undercut if they continue digging the climate hole deeper by supporting fossil fuel exploration.”

The analysis is an extension of a report outlining public support for fossil fuel exploration in all G20 countries, released by Oil Change International and Overseas Development Institute in November of this year. That report can be found at http://bit.ly/fossil-fuel-bailout.

“Crawling out of the climate hole with one hand while digging it deeper with the other simply won’t work. Public support for fossil fuels, and in particular for exploration for new fossil fuel reserves, needs to end. Now,” Turnbull said.

Update: Since the release of this report, Australia has contributed $165.5 million USD to the Green Climate Fund. This compares to the $2.99 billion USD they put towards fossil fuel exploration. Belgium has also made a contribution of $63.8 million USD.

Data Sources for Exploration Subsidies and Finance: Exploration subsidies and finance in this analysis for G20 countries use the data in ODI and OCI’s previous report, The Fossil Fuel Bailout: G20 Subsidies for Oil, Gas and Coal Exploration, available here: http://bit.ly/fossil-fuel-bailout . Additional data on exploration subsidies for Annex 2 countries not in the G20 is available here: Public Support for Fossil Fuel Exploration in Annex 2 Countries Not in the G20 (pdf).

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Overseas Development Institute is the UK’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues.

Oil Change International is a research, communications, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the coming transition towards clean energy.

Comments (4)

  1. Alex says:

    It’s actually factually incorrect to say:

    “The analysis shows public support from rich countries (so-called Annex II countries) for fossil fuel exploration totals some $26.6 billion per year, while pledges to the Green Climate Fund from those same countries come in at just over $9.5 billion.”

    The 9.5 is over 4 years and so actually amounts to just under 2.5 a year. Therefore it’s closer to 11 times.

  2. Elizabeth Bast says:

    Thanks for your comment, Alex.

    It’s true that the government support for exploration is annualized while most of the Green Climate Fund pledges are over several years. So if the GCF pledges were presented annually, the ratio of exploration support to climate finance pledged would be even greater. The sentence you reference above, however, while it could be read that way, does not say that the $9.5 billion is annualized.

    We decided to be conservative in our comparison and align it with the news about the initial $10 billion being committed for the GCF. But the point – regardless – is that public support for exploration far outweighs climate finance pledges, and that continued public support for oil, gas and coal exploration directly undermines government support for climate finance.

  3. Byron Smith says:

    a. Current pledges to the GCF are $9.7b, not $9.5b.

    b. If you move from Annex-II countries to G20 nations, then the total government spend on fossil carbon exploration rises to US$88bn.

    c. This is just the government funds. Companies spend tens or hundreds of billions more. Altogether, this has to be one of the most insane uses of money we’ve come up with. We can’t even burn the carbon we’ve already found.

  4. Aubrey Meyer says:

    The tension between assets stranded by climate protection measure and humanity stranded by a failure to protect the climate is behind this story.

    It is a very real tension that needs measuring and managing: – http://morphic.it/cbat/#domain-1 notes: –
    http://www.gci.org.uk/CBAT_MkII_Explanation.html

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