Only 20 countries, led overwhelmingly by the United States, could be 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 is allowed to proceed, it would lock in climate chaos and an unlivable future.
This new report, titled Planet Wreckers: How Countries’ Oil and Gas Extraction Plans Risk Locking in Climate Chaos, is released days ahead of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ Climate Ambition Summit in New York City. 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.
The report shows that:
- Only 20 countries could be responsible for nearly 90 percent of the carbon-dioxide (CO2) pollution from new oil and gas fields and fracking wells planned between 2023 and 2050.
- If all 20 of these governments said “no” to their planned new oil and gas production, as the UN Secretary General is urging them to, 173 billion tonnes (Gt) of carbon pollution would be kept in the ground. That is equivalent to the lifetime pollution of nearly 1,100 new coal plants, or more than 30 years of annual U.S. carbon emissions.
- Among these 20 countries, five global north governments stand out as the biggest climate hypocrites and most egregious Planet Wreckers: the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Despite having the greatest economic means to rapidly phase out production, they are responsible for a majority (51 percent) of planned expansion from new oil and gas fields through 2050. New drilling in countries with high incomes, diversified economies and outsized historical responsibility for causing the climate crisis, while claiming to be climate leaders, is inexcusable. These countries must not only stop expansion immediately but also move first and fastest to phase out their production and pay their fair share to fund a just global energy transition.
- The United States is Planet Wrecker In Chief, accounting for more than one-third of planned global oil and gas expansion through 2050, followed by Canada and Russia. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) 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.
- The scale of oil and gas expansion planned in these 20 countries 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 percent more carbon pollution than the allowed budget for 1.5°C. If these countries proceed with their new extraction, committed carbon pollution will be 190 percent over the 1.5°C budget, risking locking in more than a dangerous 2°C of warming.
- Stopping new oil and gas would put the world closer to a 1.5°C aligned emissions trajectory but would not be enough. Without any new oil and gas fields or licenses anywhere, global oil and gas production would decline by two percent per year to 2030 and by five percent per year from 2030 to 2050. However, limiting heating to 1.5°C requires governments to go further by closing down already producing fields.