FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Nicole Rodel, Oil Change International – nicole@priceofoil.org (CET)

Valentina Stackl, Oil Change International – valentina@priceofoil.org (ET)

New Research Exposes 5 Global North Countries Responsible for 51% of Planned Oil and Gas Expansion Through 2050

  • Analysis shows just 20 countries are responsible for nearly 90% of carbon dioxide pollution threatened by new oil and gas extraction projects between 2023 and 2050 — with top ‘climate hypocrites’ the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom accounting for a majority.
  • If these 20 Planet Wreckers followed the call from UN Secretary General Guterres to stop new oil and gas fields and licensing, the equivalent to the lifetime carbon pollution of 1,100 new coal plants would be kept in the ground
  • The United States is Planet Wrecker In Chief, accounting for more than one-third of planned global oil and gas expansion through 2050.
  • Oil and gas expansion by the 20 Planet Wrecker countries would make it impossible to hold temperature rise to 1.5°C.

12 September – Only 20 countries, led overwhelmingly by the United States, are responsible for nearly 90 percent of the carbon-dioxide (CO2) pollution threatened by new oil and gas fields and fracking wells planned between 2023 and 2050. If this oil and gas expansion [1] is allowed to proceed, it would lock in climate chaos and an unlivable future, according to Planet Wreckers, a new report by Oil Change International

The research is released days ahead of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, where more than 10,000 people will march in protest of inaction against fossil fuels. Guterres has called for countries to show up with commitments to stop oil and gas expansion and plan a phase out of existing production in line with the 1.5°C limit.

If these 20 countries, which the report dubs “Planet Wreckers”, halted their planned new oil and gas extraction, 173 billion tonnes (Gt) of carbon pollution would be kept in the ground. This is equivalent to the lifetime pollution of nearly 1,100 new coal plants, or more than 30 years of annual U.S. carbon emissions. On top of oil and gas extraction from already operating sites worldwide, this amount of new carbon pollution would make it impossible to hold temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Five global north countries with the greatest economic means and moral responsibility to rapidly phase out production are responsible for a majority (51%) of planned expansion from new oil and gas fields through 2050: the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom

The United States is “Planet Wrecker-In-Chief”, accounting for more than one-third of CO2 pollution from planned global oil and gas expansion through 2050.[2] The United States is already the largest producer of oil and gas in the world and the largest historical climate polluter. 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), this year’s host of crucial UN negotiations, is also set to be one of the largest expanders of oil and gas production despite pledging to use its COP presidency to “keep 1.5°C alive”.

Oil and gas expansion from the 20 countries would make it impossible to hold temperature rise to 1.5°C. Even extracting just the fossil fuels from existing sites globally would result in 140% more carbon pollution than the allowed budget for 1.5°C. If these countries proceed with new extraction, committed carbon pollution from fossil fuel production will be 190% over the 1.5°C budget, risking locking in more than a dangerous 2°C of warming, and an unlivable future for all.

Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy lead and report co-author at Oil Change International, said: “It’s simple: when you are in a hole, the first step is to stop digging. The climate crisis is global in nature – but is atrociously unjust. A handful of the world’s richest nations’  are risking our future by willingly ignoring the calls to rapidly phase out fossil fuels. Despite very clear science telling us what is in store beyond 1.5°C, these so-called climate leaders are planning for climate chaos. Continuing to increase fossil fuel production anywhere is not compatible with a liveable future and has been rightly called “moral and economic madness” by UN Secretary General Guterres. All countries must  show up to the UN Climate Ambition Summit with plans to stop oil and gas expansion immediately, but these five countries have the additional responsibility to move first and fastest to phase out their production, and pay their fair share to fund a just global energy transition. The world is watching, and those intent on leading us into disaster will be held accountable.”

Julia Levin, Associate Director, National Climate, Environmental Defence Canada said: “Canada has been rightly exposed as one of the worst polluters on the planet, as a result of its plans to increase oil and gas production. It has been a devastating summer for people across Canada, who have lost their lives, their homes and their communities as a result of climate disasters. Yet governments in Canada are throwing fuel on the fire by expanding oil and gas production, while the federal government  drags its feet on new rules that would cap and cut emissions from the oil and gas sector. Further delay in reducing oil and gas pollution is inexcusable.”

Tessa Khan, Executive Director at Uplift, said: “We’re often told that the UK is a climate leader, but this confirms that we’re now part of a tiny club of countries that are having an outsized role in driving the climate crisis. We know we cannot keep opening up new oil and gas fields if we want a habitable world, yet that is exactly what this government is doing.

Rishi Sunak needs to stop bowing to the demands of the fossil fuel firms, who continue to rake in obscene profits while millions of us cannot afford to heat our homes.

What’s worse is that we don’t need to be part of this wrecking club. The UK has renewable resources in abundance, enough to provide us with a cheaper, clean supply of energy. Oil and gas companies cannot be allowed to influence the UK’s energy or climate policies any longer.”

James Sherley, Climate Justice Campaigner at Jubilee Australia, said: Despite the reality of the climate crisis the Australian government continues to facilitate the expansion of the fossil fuel industry. In recent years Australians have been devastated by the most severe bushfires and floods in our history, it is inconceivable that our taxpayer dollars are still propping up the industry causing this destruction. By signing the Glasgow Statement the government can end its support for fossil fuel exports and redirect that integral capital into the clean energy revolution. This is just one step Australia must take if we are to rebuild some credibility on global climate action, especially pertinent considering our bid to host COP31 with our Pacific Islands neighbors.”

Frode Pleym, head of Greenpeace Norway, said: “This report confirms that Norway is on a highway to climate hell. The science could not be more clear: There is no room for a single drop of oil from new fields. Yet, the state is spending billions on exploring for ever more resources, even in the vulnerable arctic.”  

Caroline Brouillette, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada, said: “From heatwaves to wildfires to floods, Canadians have experienced devastating climate impacts this summer – all of which are linked to fossil fuels. Pollution from Canada’s oil and gas sector has risen unchecked for decades, and the sector is still planning further expansion, actively destroying our chance at a safe and healthy future. Fossil fuel companies won’t clean up their act on their own: Canada needs a strong and ambitious emissions cap to ensure the oil and gas industry finally takes responsibility.”

Helen Mancini, 16 year old Fridays For Future from New York City, said: “The Planet-Wreckers report presents unmistakable evidence of the peril of fossil fuel expansion while reckoning with the world’s historic polluters, namely the United States, and how we must hold them accountable. The activism youth are doing is not radical, it’s a demand for survival that the Planet-Wreckers must heed.” 

Lavetanalagi Seru, Regional Coordinator for Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) said: “Australia’s treachery is once again laid bare for all to see. This report cuts through the supposed change in rhetoric on climate by the Albanese Government and exposes Australia for what it truly is: a captive of the fossil fuel industry shackled to its insidious agenda. 

It’s unfathomable that the Australian government continues to stoke the flames of the climate crisis, despite the brutal scars of unprecedented bushfires and floods etched into its landscape, and with full knowledge of the profound impacts that the fossil fuel industry inflicts upon First Nations communities and the Pacific. 

With the window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C rapidly closing, a global fossil fuel phase out that is fast, fair and funded must be our paramount priority. Pacific Leaders must strongly insist on Australia to course correct before lending its support to the COP31 bid.”

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Notes: 

Oil Change International will be hosting a virtual press conference at 10AM ET on 12 September with exclusive content on the Planet Wreckers report. Speakers include report co-author Romain Ioualalen, as well as Bill McKibben and Vanessa Nakate on regional perspectives. Register for the press conference here. 

  1. New oil and gas extraction refers to production from fields and fracking wells that are not yet producing or under construction as of 2023. This extraction depends on new exploration licenses and/or permits from governments, or final investment decisions by companies.
  2. President Biden’s announcement last week of new drilling restrictions in parts of Alaska does not materially change our findings. Major Alaska expansion projects like Willow and Alaska LNG remain untouched by this decision and the vast majority of new U.S. extraction is driven by fracking.

4 Comments

  • Merci pour ce rapport. C’est une situation que je connais déjà et que je dénonce autant que je peux.

  • If they followed your recommendations, the world would be safe and also back the dark ages. A side benefit would be a drastic reduction in world population, how are your survival skills?
    The only logical solution is nuclear energy, and we need at least 15 years of fossil fuels to get nuclear to a level that it would substantially offset fossil and coal energy production.

  • Thanks for this interesting piece! I was wondering if you considered only plans within a countries borders or also in other countries borders? I know that much of the new oil and gas search in Mexico is carried out by enterprises like Eni and Total. Would you consider those as Mexico’s plans or as Italy’s and France’s projects, respectively?

    Thank you,
    Ornela

  • I’ve recently become aware of Oil Change International and I have learned a great deal. So, thank you for what you are doing. I would like to point out though, that when listing the countries responsible for increased petroleum exploitation, you should bring most the blame to the multi-national corporations for promoting this exploitation and their continuance in furthering the problem. These corporations are not beholden to the countries where they exist and would not feel obligated or allegiance to these countries. I believe they would try to overthrow these governments if there was serious threat to their profits. It is upon these multi-national corporations that we should focus our resistance and exposure. Please let me know your thoughts on this if possible.

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