Increase in oil, gas activities cast shadow on Paris climate goals

The United States leads this surge in activity, which contradicts the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) previous assertion that to prevent exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, there can be no new oil and gas infrastructure. Ignoring this warning could result in worsening climate impacts such as heatwaves, floods, and droughts.

A recent report reveals that global fossil-fuel producers are set to significantly increase extraction from newly approved projects by nearly four times by the end of the decade, posing a serious threat to established climate targets.

Despite the IEA’s guidance, both countries and major fossil fuel companies have continued to push forward with numerous new gas initiatives. Approximately 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent have been discovered since the IEA’s declaration in 2021, with plans to extract nearly 31 billion barrels of oil equivalent from 64 additional fields by the end of the decade.

The United States, already the largest producer of crude oil, has spearheaded new oil and gas projects in recent years, closely followed by Guyana. The Americas collectively account for 40% of the newly sanctioned oil projects. This relentless pursuit of fossil fuels jeopardizes efforts to stay within the 1.5-degree Celsius warming limit, a threshold scientists anticipate surpassing within the next decade.

This trend is exacerbated by major oil and gas companies failing to meet emission reduction targets, with some even downplaying the necessity of transitioning away from fossil fuels. The continual pursuit of new gas fields despite explicit warnings underscores a lack of commitment to climate goals on the supply side.

Additionally, existing oil and gas infrastructure is already projected to exceed the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold, and the planned increase in activity will only exacerbate this issue. The report identifies 45 fully sanctioned projects, totaling 16 billion barrels of oil equivalent since the 2021 IEA report, although this likely underestimates future emissions by not including unconventional extraction methods like fracking.

While the United States remains a dominant player in oil and gas, attention is shifting to new production areas in South America and Africa. Despite historically limited oil and gas production, countries like Cyprus, Guyana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have contributed significantly to recent discoveries.

The largest recent discoveries include the Shahini gas field in Iran, TotalEnergies’ Venus project in Namibia, and the Kodiak project in Alaska. Despite claims from gas producers about the necessity of new fields, the report emphasizes that such reasoning contradicts clear scientific evidence: continuing to develop new oil and gas projects will push the planet beyond its capacity to mitigate climate change.

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