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The 14 "Carbon Bombs" That Are About To Blow Up The Planet

These projects to increase production of fossil fuels are being planned around the world. But if all of them come to fruition, it may be the last fossil fuels we produce, because the combined effect will be to raise the planet’s temperature disastrously.

  • <p>These 14 developments will increase emissions 20% by 2020, thus "locking in" long-term temperature increases in the 5 to 6 degrees Celsius range. Scientists normally call 2 degrees a relatively safe limit. 1: Australia’s coal exports are expected to hit 450 million tons a year above 2011 levels, increasing CO2 emissions by 1,322 million tons.</p>
  • <p>2: Greenpeace says China’s five northwestern provinces will increase CO2 emissions by 1,543 million tons a year by 2015.</p>
  • <p>3: On their current pace, U.S. coal exports would add an annual 462 million tons of CO2 a year by 2020.</p>
  • <p>4: Indonesia "plans a massive expansion in coal exports from the island of Kalimantan, creating dire environmental impacts for the local people and the tropical forests."</p>
  • <p>5: In Canada, "producers are trying to boost production in the tar sands from 1.5 to 4.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2035. This additional dirty oil would add [778 millon tons] of CO2 to the atmosphere every year."</p>
  • <p>6: In the Arctic, "if fossil fuel companies succeed with their plans to exploit oil and gas reserves in this fragile environment, there is the potential to add … more greenhouse gas emissions than Germany and the Netherlands combined."</p>
  • <p>7: Plans by Brazil to extract 4 million barrels of oil a day from underneath the ocean will add 363 million tons of CO2 by 2020.</p>
  • <p>8: In the Gulf of Mexico, "plans for new deepwater oil drilling would produce 2.1 million barrels of oil a day in 2016, adding [385 million tons] of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the emissions of France in 2010."</p>
  • <p>9: In Venezuela, "the Orinoco tar sands will produce 2.3 million barrels of new oil a day by 2035, adding [209 million tons] of CO2 in 2020."</p>
  • <p>Greenpeace says the increase in U.S. shale gas production will add 308 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere by 2020.</p>
  • <p>Kazakhstan’s Caspian Sea oil deliveries will emit 320 million tons of CO2 by 2020.</p>
  • <p>Natural gas development in Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan will add an annual 264 million tons of CO2.</p>
  • <p>African natural gas deliveries will emit an additional 286 million tons of CO2 a year by 2020, according to Greenpeace.</p>
  • <p>Iraq’s new oil production will produce 462 million tons of CO2 a year by 2020.</p>
  • 01 /14

    These 14 developments will increase emissions 20% by 2020, thus "locking in" long-term temperature increases in the 5 to 6 degrees Celsius range. Scientists normally call 2 degrees a relatively safe limit. 1: Australia’s coal exports are expected to hit 450 million tons a year above 2011 levels, increasing CO2 emissions by 1,322 million tons.

  • 02 /14

    2: Greenpeace says China’s five northwestern provinces will increase CO2 emissions by 1,543 million tons a year by 2015.

  • 03 /14

    3: On their current pace, U.S. coal exports would add an annual 462 million tons of CO2 a year by 2020.

  • 04 /14

    4: Indonesia "plans a massive expansion in coal exports from the island of Kalimantan, creating dire environmental impacts for the local people and the tropical forests."

  • 05 /14

    5: In Canada, "producers are trying to boost production in the tar sands from 1.5 to 4.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2035. This additional dirty oil would add [778 millon tons] of CO2 to the atmosphere every year."

  • 06 /14

    6: In the Arctic, "if fossil fuel companies succeed with their plans to exploit oil and gas reserves in this fragile environment, there is the potential to add … more greenhouse gas emissions than Germany and the Netherlands combined."

  • 07 /14

    7: Plans by Brazil to extract 4 million barrels of oil a day from underneath the ocean will add 363 million tons of CO2 by 2020.

  • 08 /14

    8: In the Gulf of Mexico, "plans for new deepwater oil drilling would produce 2.1 million barrels of oil a day in 2016, adding [385 million tons] of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the emissions of France in 2010."

  • 09 /14

    9: In Venezuela, "the Orinoco tar sands will produce 2.3 million barrels of new oil a day by 2035, adding [209 million tons] of CO2 in 2020."

  • 10 /14

    Greenpeace says the increase in U.S. shale gas production will add 308 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere by 2020.

  • 11 /14

    Kazakhstan’s Caspian Sea oil deliveries will emit 320 million tons of CO2 by 2020.

  • 12 /14

    Natural gas development in Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan will add an annual 264 million tons of CO2.

  • 13 /14

    African natural gas deliveries will emit an additional 286 million tons of CO2 a year by 2020, according to Greenpeace.

  • 14 /14

    Iraq’s new oil production will produce 462 million tons of CO2 a year by 2020.

If you believe in the possibilities of corporate responsibility—or for that matter, basic human kindness—you probably shouldn’t read Greenpeace’s latest climate change report. It might shake your faith.

Why? Because its conclusion is so stark and so simple, and yet so widely and willfully ignored: If we go ahead with 14 major fossil fuel projects now on the drawing board (you can see them above), we’ll have a good chance of destroying the world as we know it. Or, to put it less emotionally: We’ll sail right through carbon limits most scientists agree are safe for the atmosphere.

Take a look at the slide show for a graphic sense of the danger. From coal production in Australia, China, and Indonesia, to deepwater oil projects in Brazil and the Arctic, to tar sands in Canada and Venezuela, to shale gas and conventional gas in the U.S. and the Caspian Sea, the world is set for a big push on the dirtiest forms of energy development. Together, Greenpeace says the projected output will increase emissions 20% by 2020, thus "locking in" long-term temperature increases in the 5 to 6 degrees Celsius range. Scientists normally call 2 degrees a relatively safe limit—and until recently that was the consensus in the international community as well.

"With total disregard for this unfolding global disaster, the fossil fuel industry is planning 14 massive coal, oil, and gas projects that would produce as much new carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2020 as the entire U.S., and delay action on climate change for more than a decade," the report says.

Of course, you might think the numbers skewed because they come from beardy environmentalists with an agenda. Except, in this case, the numbers aren’t Greenpeace’s. They were commissioned from Ecofys, an environmental consultancy. More than that, the report says essentially the same thing as the International Energy Agency (which last year reported that we could not burn more than one third of fossil fuel reserves by 2050 to remain within 2 degrees), and the World Bank which says we’re on course for a 4-degree increase by century’s end.

Greenpeace says the 14 developments would produce 54,674 million tons of coal, 29,400 billion cubic meters of natural gas, and 260,000 million barrels of oil—but add 330 billion tons of CO2-equivalent emissions by 2050 (see here for the methodology). To stay within the 2-degree increase, emissions have to start falling before 2015, which means canceling, rather than rushing ahead, with some of the plans on the table. That doesn’t seem likely—but it is the wide consensus not only of the enviro-lobby, but of plenty of sensible people who’ve studied the issue.

[All Images: Shutterstock]

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