Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

The Sky’s Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production

The Sky’s Limit: Why the Paris Climate Goals Require a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production

Oil Change International, in collaboration with 350.org, Amazon Watch, APMDD, AYCC, Bold Alliance, Christian Aid, Earthworks, Équiterre, Global Catholic Climate Movement, HOMEF, Indigenous Environmental Network, IndyAct, Rainforest Action Network, and Stand.earth

September 2016

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The Sky's Limit Cover

A new study released by Oil Change International, in partnership with 14 organizations from around the world, scientifically grounds the growing movement to keep carbon in the ground by revealing the need to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and industry expansion. It focuses on the potential carbon emissions from developed reserves – where the wells are already drilled, the pits dug, and the pipelines, processing facilities, railways, and export terminals constructed.

Key Findings:

  • The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming.
  • The reserves in currently operating oil and gas fields alone, even with no coal, would take the world beyond 1.5°C.
  • With the necessary decline in production over the coming decades to meet climate goals, clean energy can be scaled up at a corresponding pace, expanding the total number of energy jobs.

Key Recommendations:

  • No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them.
  • Some fields and mines – primarily in rich countries – should be closed before fully exploiting their resources, and financial support should be provided for non-carbon development in poorer countries.
  • This does not mean stopping using all fossil fuels overnight. Governments and companies should conduct a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it.

Click here to download the report.

Click here to read the report’s Executive Summary in French.

Comments (27)

  1. Ruth ferguson says:

    Thank God, finally common sense.

  2. Robert Preuss says:

    If you’d express climate change in terms of temperature increases in Fahrenheit, there is a chance — albeit a small one — that some people in the United States will understand the basic concepts here.

  3. Victor C. Myers says:

    This is an excellent first step that needs to be followed by placing a fee on carbon that would increase each year with that fee returning to U.S. households. Tax advantages to fossil fuel production should be removed immediately.

  4. Lovenda says:

    Clean energy!

  5. skyfishgoo says:

    leave it in the ground

  6. James Newberry says:

    Unless this report has addressed the diseconomies of atomic fission, then it may be used to endorse “nuclear energy” as “clean, renewable energy.” This is already occurring in New York State and Britain. I hope this is not the intent of its authors.

  7. The time of carbon fuels is passed. It is irresponsible for the government to grant leases and to continue to allow health, safety and environmental exceptions for the exploration, production and waste disposal to continue.

  8. Marchelle Carlton says:

    So, how the heck are we going to do this?

  9. Hilary Blundell says:

    At last a report that has the credentials to convince govts that they need to get serious about FF reduction now and not later. We need a rising Global Carbon Tax, everywhere, including ships and planes, to motivate the necessary change of behaviour, and honour Paris and more. The money raised needs to go to help poorer countries develop their RE systems. Beware the Trade Deals that look to lock out these urgent changes in secret.

  10. John Atkeison says:

    Did everyone actually read the article? This is one of the most important parts:
    ” Carbon wonks will reply that this is a good argument for an economy-wide price on carbon, which would boost all carbon-reduction strategies, without favor. And they’re not wrong. But it’s worth remembering that a carbon price’s influence on gasoline prices (for example) is quite oblique. A carbon tax of $20/ton will raise the price of a gallon of gasoline by about 20 cents. Even $100/ton, far higher than anyone is now contemplating, adds only about $1 to a gallon of gas — not nothing, but well short of powerful enough to drive a rapid, mass transition from ICEVs to EVs.
    ” A carbon tax hits the electricity sector first, precisely because that’s where the cheapest carbon reductions are found. Transportation, in many ways the most difficult challenge, will be the last affected by a tax. If we want to drive a wholesale transition of transportation and heating to electricity, at a time when fossil fuels are cheaper than ever, it’s going to require something more forceful and targeted than any realistic carbon price.
    ” Still, it is now clear that deep decarbonization will involve pushing as much energy usage as possible to electricity grids. Farsighted policy will seek to accelerate that process, achieving the enduring benefits of electrification that much sooner.
    ” Such policies would involve substantial investment in the short term for payoff over the long term, which is not exactly the forte of democratic politics in the best of circumstances, and these … are not those.
    ” Nonetheless, this perspective brings a welcome clarity to the immediate challenges of climate policy. Once more, for the cheap seats:
    ” 1- Clean up electricity.
    ” 2- Electrify everything.”

  11. John Atkeison says:

    Sorry – wrong page!

  12. Martin Corney says:

    We solved the hole in the ozone layer problem by phasing out CFCs. We now need to phase out burning carbon and replace with renewable energy. This must be done globally or CO2 emissions will be exported. A decreasing global carbon extraction quota, issued to nations by population and traded, is the only practical solution IMHO.

  13. James Houston says:

    Prime Minister
    Keep your promise. The science supports it.

  14. thomas sherman says:

    we need to have a depression. i published this thought in october 74. now its hopeless.

  15. Joanna Santa Barbara says:

    This is an extremely helpful report. Just what I’ve been wanting, in fact.
    A question for you: You’ve usefully presented much of your data in terms of a 66% chance of not exceeding a 2 degree temperature increase and a 50% chance of not exceeding 1.5 degrees. If we take the 1.5 degree levels, what probability does that translate to for remaining below 2 degrees?
    (66% is an awfully low probability for avoiding a potentially catastrophic outcome.)

  16. THANK YOU for this excellent and much-needed report.

  17. Lars Jonsson says:

    Which is the competent international authority indicated to make this happen? Or, is there need for a new conference, with a ten years’ preparatory process? Its getting late.

  18. Carol Allen says:

    Yes, how do we reach each individual and governments of the world? How do we make clean energy real, achievable, and affordable in our everyday lives?

  19. Dana Sawyer says:

    This is an excellent report! Now we need to think about how to spread awareness and make this part of the national conversation. I hope that virtually every environmental group worldwide will endorse this plan

    As a first step, I encourage everyone to write to their Senators and Representatives in Washington, endorsing this report and bringing it to their attention.

    If no new wells are permitted then the cost of petroleum will rise naturally to become uncompetitive with renewables. However, there should certainly be a substantial carbon tax or tariff on oil from any country which does not limit production to existing wells.

  20. Bambu says:

    So does this mean they will stop frack ing the USA for their oil and going along with Hillary ‘ s plans to Frack?

    Sick of the we’re great and your not posts of other countries. What they are banning there they are heavily vested in in and around USA.

    France does frack they just do it everywhere else

  21. Abiola Oluwaseyi says:

    I support this and this is the moment for us to act.

  22. Richard Kildaw says:

    The best way to cut through this problem is to:
    1). Remove all gov’t subsidies to all energy producers.
    2). Establish a $price to the producer (not the consumer). The $price should placed on all energy producers like so: $”x” per ton of GHG’s emitted per standardized energy unit of production.

  23. Rebecca Stone says:

    HEMP is a good answer – no wars were fought for hemp and cooking oil, no harmful pipelines were built and leaked for that oil , no ocean life was ruined due to offshore drilling, no one’s health was effected for that vegetable oil , the air is cleaner with that oil due to no green house gases released – this oil can be recycled from our food – hemp can replace fibers,pulp, plastics and it still makes food and grows in under 3 months (and it does not need much water, no fertilizer and cleans the air !! #votegreen and let’s get some stuff moving in the right direction !! Hemp does it’s part by breathing in 4x the carbon dioxide (CO2) of trees during it’s quick 12-14 week growing cycle. Trees take 20 years to mature vs 4 months for Industrial Hemp! Our forests are being cut down 3x faster than they can grow!

  24. Phil Johnson says:

    Finally, a diamond in the rough with all the sturm und drang out there on CC and the abysmal, offhand way it is treated by MSM and the political honkers that are now tugging this country over the cliff. I discovered this by reading an article posted on a liberal online paper. I am just leaving my footprint to register dismay over the situation: politically, this country seems to be impervious to knowledge. It prefers, it seems, led by its solons and others, to remain in the dark: “as long as we keep our eyes closed, we won’t know when the last snow melts and who gives a damn, anyway?”
    Quel dommage…
    aures lupi

  25. Lourdes von burg says:

    Discipline begins at home. Recycling especially plastic bottles,wine bottles, batteries, aluminum foils. It would also encourage the leaders of the community
    especially in schools a representative of
    each place to show guidelines of preserving
    and taking care of mother nature to the younger generations. They will be the one to suffer in the long run. Leaders of the Nations should work together and hope you served for the betterment of your country. Thank you Pope Francis and the whole committee of the Global climate Change for your awesome work ! God is love and St. Francis , our patron Saint for Ecology, please pray for us !

  26. Ahmad Asfari says:

    Economic loss due to world’s conflicts in the last three decades exceeded 120 t US$. At least 30% of that cost was related to issues concerning the control of FF sources worldwide. Let aside global climate change, which is a proven fact of major concern and huge economic implications anyway, RE, not only a proven technology with a mere financial advantage , but a decisive factor in reducing world geopolitical tensions related to energy sector.
    The world must stop talking and start action NOW.

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