Oil and gas companies, and some governments, are more interested in looking like they are acting on climate change than actually acting on climate change. They spend billions on smoke and mirrors, such as:
to make us believe that they are coming up with solutions for a livable planet when, in reality, they are trying to build escape hatches to suck every last ounce of profit out of their dirty fossil fuel business. These companies and their lobbyists are counting on adding loopholes in the final UN Climate Change Conference commitments to keep business as usual.
We cannot let them.
The end of the fossil fuel era is unstoppable but we cannot allow polluters to delay us. We must hold governments to moving forward the solutions we need. We need a full, fast, fair, and funded fossil fuel phase out, and a just transition that triples renewable energy and doubles energy efficiency. Any dangerous distractions that allow companies to keep extracting oil and gas, instead of phasing out these dirty energies, are traps.
“Abated Fossil Fuels” and COP
At The UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), fossil fuel companies and their government enablers will push the fantasy of “abated fossil fuels”. They will try to convince the global community that when fossil fuels are produced or used along with certain technologies, they don’t pollute, cause climate chaos, or harm communities.
The term fossil fuel “abatement” has no official definition but is generally understood to mean “with carbon capture and storage”. The fossil fuel industry is pursuing a wide range of technologies it frames as “abatement”, despite these technologies failing to deliver emissions reductions and prolonging the era of fossil fuels.
The idea of “abated fossil fuels” is a delay tactic. “Abatement” is a qualifier that allows oil and gas companies to keep pumping out and profiting off dirty energy, instead of phasing out. What we need is a full, fast, fair and funded phaseout.
- Governments have spent over $20 billion – and have approved up to $200 billion more – of public money on carbon capture and storage (CCS), providing a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry, and exacerbating the climate crisis and environmental injustice.
- The majority of CCS is used to expand fossil fuel extraction. 79% of operating carbon capture capacity globally sends captured CO2 to produce more oil (via Enhanced Oil Recovery).
- Many of the largest CCS projects in the world over-promise and under-deliver, operating far below capacity.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has a 50 year history of failing to live up to promises, has major technical challenges and safety risks, and primarily serves to extract more oil & gas. CCS is often presented as a new technology to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by trapping CO2 from a smokestack or directly from the air and then injecting it into the ground for storage. In fact, CCS was first commercialized in the 1970s to enhance oil production, and increasing oil production remains its primary use.
The story of CCS as a method to reduce CO2 emissions is one of over-promising and under-delivering. Analysis after analysis has concluded that CCS is not a climate solution. In September 2023, the International Energy Agency noted that: “The history of CCUS has largely been one of ‘underperformance’ and ‘unmet expectations.’” Yet Big Oil consistently tells us that CCS is central to the fight against climate change. Chevron, for example, says that CCS will make a “lower carbon future possible.”
In the run-up to COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, the oil industry and many governments are ramping up their promotion of CCS as an integral part of the collective response to climate change. There has been a flurry of renewed government commitments, conferences, and new industry initiatives, coupled with continuing misinformation. As governments prepare to spend up to $200 billion of additional public money on CCS it has to be clear: CCS is a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry, not people and planet.
The fossil gas industry works hard to portray gas as essential to the transition to a clean energy future. This ignores the fact that gas is expensive, risky, and dirty. New gas infrastructure locks in decades of new carbon emissions and slows the transition to clean energy.
Gas Fact Sheets
OCI has produced a series of factsheets to challenge the myths around gas.
The Climate Case Against Gas Expansion – This factsheet explains how building new gas infrastructure will bust our carbon budget and block the transition to renewable energy. About $380 billion of gas infrastructure is currently planned for Asia, and over 20,000 kilometers of gas pipelines are in development across Africa.
Gas is a Bad Deal for Asia – This factsheet explains how building new gas projects ignores a simple truth: increasingly, cheap renewable energy and advanced grid development and management can provide an affordable, stable backbone for a clean energy economy.
No Gas Needed – This factsheet explains how the gas industry works hard to portray gas as essential to the transition to a clean energy future, but research shows that transitioning to a renewable power system without gas is achievable using a suite of readily available policies, tools, and technologies. This factsheet provides insights into the latest research on achieving fossil-free electricity, outlines solutions for maximizing renewable electricity, and highlights policies to enable this change.
“Certified Gas” and “Measuring, Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MMRV)”
Recent attention on runaway methane pollution has spawned a new industry of monitoring companies claiming to “certify” that oil and gas producers are reducing methane emissions from their operations. While no standards currently exist for the certification process, companies are racing ahead to charge the public more for gas they claim has been “certified” as producing fewer emissions, while expanding the market for a greenwashed fossil fuel that worsens the climate crisis.
The science is clear: We can’t meet our climate goals without transitioning away from polluting methane gas. Truly emissions-free gas is not possible, and no amount of methane pollution is safe for people and the planet.
Learn More about “Certified Gas”: CertifiedDisasters.org
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced an international working group to develop a framework for the measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification (MMRV) of methane, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gas emissions from gas. They claim this effort will reduce global emissions. But the U.S. Department of Energy-led framework will not require producers to make or keep pledges to reduce their overall production of oil and gas and, as a result, will be weaponized by the fossil fuel industry to justify increased production.
As currently envisioned, the voluntary framework would rely on unreliable, easily manipulated, opaque technologies that have not shown they can be trusted to adequately measure the emissions from oil and gas operations.
Co-firing involves replacing some of the coal at coal-fired power plants with ammonia, or some of the fossil gas at gas power plants with hydrogen. By retrofitting old power plants to burn ammonia, the fuel can be combusted alongside coal to generate power. Ammonia is almost exclusively produced from gas and coal.
Co-firing will prolong the burning of coal and gas and won’t reduce emissions enough to reach the targets needed to mitigate the climate crisis.
Japan is driving the expansion of gas and other fossil fuel-based technologies, such as ammonia co-firing, hydrogen, and CCS, across Asia and globally at a time when we must phase them out. This would worsen the climate and energy crises and block the transition to renewable energy.
Check out our webpage, video and briefing on ammonia co-firing and hydrogen: Japan’s toxic energy strategy