America’s push for oil and gas supremacy could lead to a “climate catastrophe,” a new report has warned.
The report by Oil Change International said that the United States is set to “unleash the world’s largest burst” of carbon emissions from new oil and gas development if it goes ahead with its plans to expand drilling.
“At precisely the time in which the world must begin rapidly decarbonizing to avoid runaway climate disaster, the United States is moving further and faster than any other country to expand oil and gas extraction,” the report said.
The United States became the world’s largest oil producer last year, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. America’s oil output has more than doubled over the past decade, mostly thanks to the huge shale oil boom.
The International Energy Agency said Friday that US oil output soared by more than 2 million barrels per day in 2018, the biggest jump ever recorded by any country. The agency, which monitors energy markets trends for the world’s richest nations, said the growth will continue this year.
A report from earlier this month also showed that after three years of decline, carbon emissions rose sharply in the United States in 2018.
The growth in the United States stands in stark contrast to the cuts promised by the 2015 landmark Paris climate change agreement.
Almost 200 countries agreed to slash carbon output and halt global warming below two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Shutting down coal mines and limiting the use of fossil fuels were key parts of that plan.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced last year he wants to push forward the country’s plan to shut down coal plants by 2023. The United Kingdom has committed to phase out its coal power plants by 2025.
Germany is expected to announce details of its plan to phase out coal next month.
The United States was another one of the leaders of that process until President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that he would withdraw the country from the accord by 2020. He has also sought to increase coal production and oil drilling.
The report by Oil Change International said that existing oil and gas fields and coal mines already contain enough carbon to push the world beyond the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“Stopping new projects alone will not be enough to keep warming well below” 2 degrees Celsius, it said.
“To limit catastrophic climate change, governments must manage the decline of the fossil fuel industry, and do so over the next few decades,” it added.