New Report: To Avoid Climate Disaster, “No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built worldwide.”
A brand-new report by Oil Change International, in collaboration with a number of other groups (e.g., 350.org, the Rainforest Action Network, Earthworks, Christian Aid), is crystal clear about how rapidly the transition to a clean energy economy must take place if we want to avoid climate disaster. Key points (and graphics) include:
- “When You’re In a Hole, Stop Digging”: “The potential carbon emissions from the oil, gas, and coal in the world’s currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming…No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built, and governments should grant no new permits for them.”
- Also Need Early Closure of Some Existing Fossil Fuel Operations: “Some fields and mines – primarily in rich countries – should be closed before fully exploiting their reserves, and financial support should be provided for non-carbon development in poorer countries…Additionally, production should be discontinued wherever it violates the rights of local people – including indigenous peoples – or where it seriously damages biodiversity.”
- Failure to Act Now Could Mean Enormous Climate and/or Economic Problems: “…whether through climate change or stranded assets, a failure to begin a managed decline now would inevitably entail major economic and social costs.” The environmental costs include sharp reductions in wheat yields and water availability, and sharp increases in heat waves, extreme precipitation and flooding, etc. The economic costs could be enormous as well, including around $14 trillion in stranded assets for fossil fuel extraction and transportation projects.
- Fortunately, Renewable Energy Can Meet the Challenge: “With the necessary decline in production over the coming decades to meet climate goals, clean energy can be scaled up at a corresponding pace, expanding the total number of energy jobs…While existing fields and mines are depleted over the coming decades, clean energy can be scaled up at a corresponding pace.”
- Clean Power is Booming and Its Price is Plummeting: “Renewable power generation is growing exponentially: wind at around 20% per year globally, and solar at around 35% per year.68 Wind generation has more than doubled since 2010, while solar has doubled nearly three times in that period. Compounded over many years, these growth rates add up rapidly: if wind and solar sustained their current global growth rates, they would exceed current coal and gas power generation in 2029…. In most contexts, the costs of wind and solar power are now close to those of gas and coal; in some countries renewable costs are already lower.”
- Moving Rapidly to a Clean Energy Economy Requires a “Managed Decline” in Fossil Fuels and a “Just Transition”: “Governments and companies should conduct a proactively managed decline of the fossil fuel industry and ensure a just transition for the workers and communities that depend on it.
- The Transition Off of Fossil Fuels Has to Happen Quickly: “For the world to stay within either of these temperature limits [an increase of 1.5°C or 2°C], rapid emissions cuts are required.”
- Stop Looking for New Fossil Fuel Reserves Immediately: “We have seen that existing fossil fuel reserves considerably exceed both the 2°C and 1.5°C carbon budgets. It follows that exploration for new fossil fuel reserves is at best a waste of money and at worst very dangerous.”
- Coal Should Be the First Fossil Fuel to Shut Down: “An obvious candidate for early closure is the coal sector. Coal accounts for the largest share of resources, the largest CO2 emissions intensity, and the largest emissions per unit of power generated. Furthermore, coal’s use in power generation is readily substitutable by renewable energy,o at least in countries and regions with mature electrical grids.”