With climate scientists, the United Nations, and millions of #ClimateStrike protesters around the world demanding faster, deeper carbon cuts, the world’s colossal fossils are poised to increase their oil production by seven million barrels per day over the next 12 years, in a strategy to generate one last, big surge of profits and emissions before demand for their product collapses.
“If we were serious about addressing climate change we would leave some oil in the ground, so there is a scramble among big oil companies to make sure their assets are not the ones left stranded,” said Oxford University economist Dieter Helm. “Their answer is to pump as much as they can, while they still can, to keep delivering shareholder dividends. But the problem for the rest of us is that they are going to produce far more oil and gas than is consistent with the Paris Agreement.”
“Rather than planning an orderly decline in production, they are doubling down and acting like there is no climate crisis,” agreed Oil Change International Senior Research Analyst Lorne Stockman. “This presents us with a simple choice: shut them down or face extreme climate disruption.”
Climate Accountability Institute researcher Richard Heede said the startling new trend would put human civilization at risk—and the companies themselves, as a result—unless they invested in renewable energy and balanced the new production back to net zero by mid-century. “No company that values its social licence to operate shall make a capital investment in new fossil fuel projects without offsetting or sequestering an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide so as to assure alignment with science-based targets to 1.5°C and net zero emissions by 2050,” he told The Guardin.
The new research commissioned by The Guardian from energy consultancy Rystad Energy shows epic climate denial funder ExxonMobil and British- and Dutch-based Shell as top fossil producers driving the increase. Shell has put considerable effort over the last year into spinning itself as a good climate citizen setting out to remake itself as the world’s leading electric power company by the early 2030s, but still devotes just 5% of its investment to new energy.
The other leading culprits: state fossils Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Iranian Oil Company, and Rosneft. The United States dominates the emerging oil boom, with Canada placing a distant second.
“Shell and ExxonMobil will be among the leaders, with a projected production increase of more than 35% between 2018 and 2030—a sharper rise than over the previous 12 years,” The Guardian reports. “The acceleration is almost the opposite of the 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 that scientists say is necessary to have any chance of holding global heating at a relatively safe level of 1.5°C.”
Rystad’s analysis “highlights how major players seem to be ignoring government promises, scientific alarms ,and a growing public outcry so they can pump more fossil fuels—and profits—out of the ground,” the UK-based paper adds. The Guardian published the new analysis as part of The Polluters, a news investigation of “the fossil fuel industry, and the structures behind it, which are driving the climate emergency”. Other blockbuster stories this week identify the 20 colossal fossils responsible for 35% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1965 and the “secretive national oil companies” that hold 90% of the world’s known oil reserves, trace the history of fossils’ climate denial back to the 1950s, and quote the companies’ reactions to the new data.