May 10, 2023

New Briefing: Over 800 protected areas worldwide under threat from fossil fuel extraction

The Leave it in the Ground Initiative (LINGO), in collaboration with Oil Change International, today launched the findings of a global analysis which maps fossil fuels underneath the world’s protected areas. For the first time, it quantifies the threat from fossil fuel extraction to legally protected areas worldwide.

The analysis shows that over 47 Gigatonnes of CO2 could be released by extracting and burning fossil fuels from within protected areas: more than the yearly emissions of the entire world combined. The dataset shows over 600 companies profiting from fossil fuel extraction inside protected areas: over 2900 ongoing or planned fossil fuel activities in protected areas in 91 countries were identified, including in the globally significant Marawah Biosphere Reserve in the United Arab Emirates, where UAE oil company ADNOC – which is led by the COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber – plans a mega fossil gas extraction project.

The results of the analysis are publicly accessible via an interactive online map.

“Protected areas should benefit from unconditional bans on extractive activities.” said Kjell Kühne, director of LINGO. “With the 1.5°C threshold around the corner, we should be seeing a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel activities. Instead, concessions to drill and mine inside protected areas are being handed out to fossil fuel companies. Pledging to keep that carbon in the ground could be a good way for governments to step up climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection at the same time.”

The research was conducted in collaboration with Oil Change International and mapping was performed by FracTracker Alliance and LINGO’s in-house mapping expert.

More information:

For further information contact:

Kjell Kühne, LINGO Director,

Alice McGown, GIS Specialist,