David Roberts, writing at Grist:
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:
China’s Western provinces / Coal mining expansion / 1,400
Australia / Coal export expansion / 760
Arctic / Drilling for oil and gas / 520
Indonesia / Coal export expansion / 460
United States / Coal export expansion / 420
Canada / Tar sands oil / 420
Iraq / Oil drilling / 420
Gulf of Mexico / Deepwater oil drilling / 350
Brazil / Deepwater oil drilling (pre-salt) / 330
Kazakhstan / Oil drilling / 290
United States / Shale gas / 280
Africa / Gas drilling / 260
Caspian Sea / Gas drilling / 240
Venezuela / Tar sands oil / 190
A simple pie chart here is useful — of the 14 projects, the majority of the problem involves coal, though others aren’t far behind. Note that the the compression here is a bit tricky — coal includes export expansion, for instance. Nonetheless, the point stands — our dirtiest fuel, from a climate and health perspective, appears to be on a trajectory to create more substantial problems for the global environment.