The 14 fossil-fuel projects poised to f*ck up the climate

Grist | A Beacon in the Smog, January 22, 2013
By David Roberts

In a justly famous Rolling Stone piece, Bill McKibben popularized the notion of “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” We have a “carbon budget,” between now and 2050, of roughly 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide. If we emit more than that we are likely to exceed the 2 degree C target agreed to in the Copenhagen Accord. (As Thomas Lovejoy notes in clear-eyed and essential piece in The New York Times yesterday, “2 degrees seems nightmarish as it is.”)

According to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, the amount of CO2 represented by the world’s proven fossil fuel reserves is 2,795 gigatons. Here’s the problem, in math terms:

2,795 > 565

If we want a reasonable hope of hitting our 2 degree target, we have to leave about 80 percent of the known fossil fuels in the ground.

That is indeed terrifying math, but it may become slightly less so as it becomes more specific and concrete. (It is always helpful to break a large task into component parts.) Toward that end, today saw some fascinating new work from the research consultancy Ecofys. Commissioned by Greenpeace, it attempts to rank the most dangerous fossil-fuel projects currently being planned.

The metric is simple: how many additional tons of CO2 the project will emit by 2020. (See the report for more on methodology.) Here’s how they rank:

  1. China’s Western provinces / Coal mining expansion / 1,400
  2. Australia / Coal export expansion / 760
  3. Arctic / Drilling for oil and gas / 520
  4. Indonesia / Coal export expansion / 460
  5. United States / Coal export expansion / 420
  6. Canada / Tar sands oil / 420
  7. Iraq / Oil drilling / 420
  8. Gulf of Mexico / Deepwater oil drilling / 350
  9. Brazil / Deepwater oil drilling (pre-salt) / 330
  10. Kazakhstan / Oil drilling / 290
  11. United States / Shale gas / 280
  12. Africa / Gas drilling / 260
  13. Caspian Sea / Gas drilling / 240
  14. Venezuela / Tar sands oil / 190

There’s a lot to mull over in this list. Here are a few things that jump out:

Read more…

About coalfreegorge

Coal is rearing its head again the Columbia Gorge. The new threat comes in the form of proposals to export coal from Wyoming to coal-fired power plants in China. The coal would be transported via uncovered rail cars through the Columbia Gorge. Many Columbia Gorge Communities in Oregon and Washington support a coal-free world, beginning at home, in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, recognizing the importance of people determining what materials are allowable for transport through their communities and watersheds. This blog exists to communicate and advocate for the public interest in issues pertaining to coal transport in the Columbia River Gorge, providing an online outlet for honest discussion and information. To inform and unite local citizens about the damaging effects of coal transport through our communities. To endorse positive and considerate dialogue with the aim of mutual understanding among diverse parties. CLEAN AIR HEALTHY COMMUNITIES NO COAL EXPORTS STOP COAL IN ITS TRACKS
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