Dangerous levels of warming locked in by planned jump in fossil fuels output

Dangerous levels of warming locked in by planned jump in fossil fuels output

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: November 20, 2019 SNIP: Global governments plan to produce 120 percent more fossil fuels by 2030, drastically at odds with the 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) warming limit they all agreed to under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. All major fossil fuel-producing nations—including the United States, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, Canada, and Australia—have ambitious plans to increase production, according to a new report by leading research organizations and the United Nations. Carbon emissions from fossil fuel use totaled 37.1 billion tonnes in 2018, a new record. Substantially reducing those emissions will never happen without reducing fossil fuel production, says Michael Lazarus, a lead author of “The Production Gap Report” and the director of Stockholm Environment Institute’s U.S. Center. Using publicly-available government documents, the report found that countries’ plans to increase production of coal, oil, and gas amounts to 120 percent more in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 2.7 degrees F. Those plans include producing 280 percent more coal. That puts the world on a path to more than 7.2 degrees F (4 degrees C) of warming, says Lazarus. “This report shows, for the first time, just how big the disconnect is between Paris temperature goals and countries’ plans and policies for coal, oil, and gas production,” Lazarus says. “Even countries claiming to be climate leaders like Canada and Norway say they want to maximize their fossil fuel exports,” he said in an interview. Investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure today “locks in” fossil fuel production. If it continues as planned countries will end up producing between 40 and...
Flood of Oil Is Coming, Complicating Efforts to Fight Global Warming

Flood of Oil Is Coming, Complicating Efforts to Fight Global Warming

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: November 3, 2019 SNIP: A surge of oil production is coming, whether the world needs it or not. The flood of crude will arrive even as concerns about climate change are growing and worldwide oil demand is slowing. And it is not coming from the usual producers, but from Brazil, Canada, Norway and Guyana — countries that are either not known for oil or whose production has been lackluster in recent years. This looming new supply may be a key reason Saudi Arabia’s giant oil producer, Aramco, pushed ahead on Sunday with plans for what could be the world’s largest initial stock offering ever. Together, the four countries stand to add nearly a million barrels a day to the market in 2020 and nearly a million more in 2021, on top of the current world crude output of 80 million barrels a day. That boost in production, along with global efforts to lower emissions, will almost certainly push oil prices down. Lower prices could prove damaging for Aramco and many other oil companies, reducing profits and limiting new exploration and drilling, while also reshaping the politics of the nations that rely on oil income. The new rise in production is likely to bring economic relief to consumers at the gas pump and to importing nations like China, India and Japan. But cheaper oil may complicate efforts to combat global warming and wean consumers and industries off their dependence on fossil fuels, because lower gasoline prices could, for example, slow the adoption of electric vehicles. Years of moderate gasoline prices have already increased the popularity...
Long-Awaited Colorado Health Study Finds Significant Risks From Fracking

Long-Awaited Colorado Health Study Finds Significant Risks From Fracking

SOURCE: Westword and Colorado State Department of Public Health and Environment DATE: October 17, 2019 SNIP: A long-delayed public health study commissioned by Colorado regulators found that oil and gas drilling poses health risks at distances greater than current minimum “setback” distances, a development that is poised to send shockwaves through a regulatory environment already in a state of transition and uncertainty. “Exposure to chemicals used in oil and gas development, such as benzene, may cause short-term negative health impacts…during ‘worst-case’ conditions,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a press release. “The study found that there is a possibility of negative health impacts at distances from 300 feet out to 2,000 feet.” The state’s current rules require new oil and gas wells to be at least 500 feet from single-family homes and 1,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings. Proposition 112, the statewide ballot measure pushed by environmental groups and defeated by Colorado voters in 2018, would have imposed a 2,500-foot minimum. State toxicologist Kristy Richardson said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that the results of the study are consistent with the health impacts that have been reported by Colorado residents near oil and gas sites in recent years. “We’ve received, since 2015, about 750 health concerns that have been reported through our hotline,” Richardson said. “About 60 percent of those concerns reported to us are things like headaches, nosebleeds, respiratory issues, skin irritation.” “This study is the first of its kind because it used actual emissions data to model potential exposure and health risks,” John Putnam, the CDPHE’s environmental program director, said in a statement...
Despite Their Promises, Giant Energy Companies Burn Away Vast Amounts of Natural Gas

Despite Their Promises, Giant Energy Companies Burn Away Vast Amounts of Natural Gas

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: October 16, 2019 SNIP: When leaders from Exxon Mobil and BP gathered last month with other fossil-fuel executives to declare they were serious about climate change, they cited progress in curbing an energy-wasting practice called flaring — the intentional burning of natural gas as companies drill faster than pipelines can move the energy away. But in recent years, some of these same companies have significantly increased their flaring, as well as the venting of natural gas and other potent greenhouse gases directly into the atmosphere, according to data from the three largest shale-oil fields in the United States. The practice has consequence for climate change because natural gas is a potent contributor to global warming. It also wastes vast amounts of energy: Last year in Texas, venting and flaring in the Permian Basin oil field alone consumed more natural gas than states like Arizona and South Carolina use in a year. Exxon’s venting and flaring has surged since 2017 to record highs, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of gas produced, the numbers show. Exxon flared or vented 70 percent more gas in 2018 than it did the previous year, according to the data, bringing an end to several years of improvements. Flaring and venting are legal under state laws, and oil companies acknowledge the practices are wasteful. Typically, venting or flaring occur because there aren’t pipelines close enough to a well to capture and transport the gas, or because gas prices are so low that it’s cheaper to discard the gas than to try to sell it. Venting can also occur...
No choice but to invest in oil, Shell CEO says

No choice but to invest in oil, Shell CEO says

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: October 14, 2019 SNIP: Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) still sees abundant opportunity to make money from oil and gas in coming decades even as investors and governments increase pressure on energy companies over climate change, its chief executive said. Shell, which supplies around 3% of the world’s energy, set out in 2017 a plan to halve the intensity of its greenhouse emissions by the middle of the century, based in large part on building one of the world’s biggest power businesses. Still, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from Shell’s operations and the products it sells rose by 2.5% between 2017 and 2018. A defiant van Beurden rejected a rising chorus from climate activists and parts of the investor community to transform radically the 112-year-old Anglo-Dutch company’s traditional business model. “Despite what a lot of activists say, it is entirely legitimate to invest in oil and gas because the world demands it,” van Beurden said. “We have no choice” but to invest in long-life projects, he added. Shell plans to greenlight more than 35 new oil and gas projects by 2025, according to an investor presentation from...