April 6, 2016

David Turnbull, david [at] priceofoil [dot] org
Lorne Stockman, lorne [at] priceofoil [dot] org
Vicky Wyatt, vicky.wyatt [at] greenpeace [dot] org

New briefing: Government assuming climate failure in draft 5 year offshore drilling plan

The recently released draft five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling is predicated on a failure to act on stated climate policy according to a new briefing note released by Oil Change International and Greenpeace USA today. To remedy this, the U.S. government should act quickly to implement a climate test in order to evaluate energy decisions on the basis of our national and international climate commitments.

“The U.S. is making energy decisions based on an out of date business-as-usual scenario that assumes the world is headed towards 5 degrees Celsius or more of global warming,” says Lorne Stockman, Research Director at Oil Change International. “We already have access to enough oil, coal, and gas to send us soaring past safe climate limits – exploration for more unburnable carbon is reckless endangerment if we are at all serious about tackling climate change.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)’s proposed 5 year plan uses the Energy Information Administration’s Reference Case scenario for future U.S. oil demand. This scenario, as the briefing note shows, leads to 445% higher GHG emissions in 2050 than the level the U.S. has committed to in order to prevent dangerous climate change.

While the draft plan did not open up new leasing areas in the Atlantic, it does propose continued leasing in the U.S. Arctic Ocean and the Gulf Coast – regions that are both highly ecologically sensitive, and that contain reserves that cannot be burned if the U.S. hopes to reach its climate goals.

“The U.S. urgently needs a robust climate test that evaluates projects based on the climate safe policies we have signed up for,” says David Turnbull, Campaigns Director at Oil Change International. “The sooner the Administration starts betting on success rather than failure, the sooner we can turn our attention to building the clean energy economy that will power this century.”

Last month, groups across North America, called on the Obama and Trudeau administrations to implement a climate test based on energy scenarios that assume adequate action on climate change. Current models, such as the EIA Reference Case used for the BOEM analysis, are based on existing policies that do not go anywhere near far enough to address the climate crisis. Indeed the scenario has already been trumped by significant commitments made at the Paris Climate Summit in December. In order to assess the climate impact of a project or policy, it is imperative that the energy context you are assessing is one that lines up with climate objectives.

“This is the last chance for citizens and communities across the country to express concerns about the five-year offshore oil leasing program put forward by BOEM,” says Vicky Wyatt of Greenpeace. “The Obama Administration must get the message loud and clear: this plan doesn’t work for our communities, and it doesn’t work for our climate. It’s setting us up for failure, that’s unacceptable. President Obama must use the time he has left in office to take all new offshore drilling off the table.”

The briefing note can be found here:

More information on the climate test can be found here: