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Record Fossil Extraction from Canada, U.S., Norway Despite Fervent Climate Pledges

The United States, Norway, and Canada are set to produce more oil this year than ever before, despite solemn pronouncements at last year’s COP 26 climate summit on the urgent need for climate action, Oil Change International asserts in a new analysis.

All three countries “like to see themselves as climate leaders,” Oil Change writes, recalling American president Joe Biden’s commitment to “doing our part,” Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s call to “do more, and faster,” and Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre’s urging to “jointly step up our commitments,” in their respective COP 26 speeches.

But those avowals were meant for last year, Oil Change says. “This is a new year, and instead of new commitments to double down on climate action, what do we see?”

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts, U.S. oil production in 2023 will surpass Donald Trump’s 2019 record for domestic crude production, courtesy of a drilling permit approval rate that surpasses that of Biden’s fossil-championing predecessor. The U.S. “has more oil and gas extraction expansion planned in the next decade than any other country,” Oil Change says.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Trudeau is proving to be another “climate hypocrite,” they write, citing a recent headline  in the Wall Street Journal proclaiming that “one of the world’s dirtiest oil patches is pumping more than ever”.

And “we will continue to see growth,” added the WSJ, courtesy of domestic companies stepping into the breach left by international producers and investors who left due to climate concerns. Oil production is expected to continue in Alberta for at least two more decades, WSJ wrote, noting that fossils extracted more crude in last year’s third quarter than the same period a year earlier.

Oil Change also points to Canada’s ambitious plans to expand its fracking business with supports like the intensely controversial Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline. Fracked gas expansion plans are bigger than anything envisioned for the tar sands/oil sands, the group says, tweeting in January that “CGL is truly massive, and it’s a linchpin for many other megaproject plans in the works.”

Norway, meanwhile, has just announced a further 53 oil and gas licences, a number of them involving exploration in the ecologically sensitive Barents Sea.

Norway’s fossil industry “contributes with large revenues, value creation, and jobs across the country,” said Petroleum and Energy Minister Marte Mjos Persen. “Further exploration activity and new discoveries are crucial to develop the Norwegian petroleum industry further.”

These national-level fossil expansions come despite the International Energy Agency’s conclusion last May that any new investment in oil and gas will leave efforts to contain global heating below 1.5°C dead in the water. Then in August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a landmark report urging leaders to halt oil and gas drilling or face heat waves, droughts, flooding, and other weather catastrophes. UN Secretary General António Guterres called the report “a code red for humanity,” but Oil Change says that message seems to have gone over the heads of some.

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3 Comments To "Record Fossil Extraction from Canada, U.S., Norway Despite Fervent Climate Pledges"

#1 Comment By Frank Sterle Jr. On February 6, 2022 @ 6:38 PM

To date there clearly has been inexcusably insufficient political courage and will to properly act upon the cause-and-effect of manmade global warming thus climate change. Therefore, humankind desperately needs environmentally conscious and active young people, especially those approaching or reaching voting age. In contrast, the dinosaur electorate who have been voting into high office consecutive mass-pollution promoting or complicit/complacent governments for decades are gradually dying off thus making way for voters who fully support a healthy Earth thus populace. …

Global mass-addiction to fossil fuel products undoubtedly helps keep the average consumer quiet about the planet’s greatest polluter, lest they feel and/or be publicly deemed hypocritical. Meanwhile, neoliberals and conservatives remain preoccupied with vocally criticizing one another for their relatively trivial politics and diverting attention away from some of the planet’s greatest polluters, where it should and needs to be sharply focused. Industry and fossil-fuel friendly governments can tell when a very large portion of the populace is too tired and worried about feeding/housing themselves or their family, and the virus-variant devastation still being left in COVID-19’s wake — all while on insufficient income — to criticize them for whatever environmental damage their policies cause/allow, particularly when not immediately observable.

Meanwhile, here in the corporate-powered West, if the universal availability of green-energy alternatives would come at the expense of the traditional energy production companies, one can expect obstacles, including the political and regulatory sort. If something notably conflicts with corporate big-profit interests, even very progressive motions are greatly resisted, often enough successfully.

As individual consumers, however, too many of us still recklessly behave as though throwing non-biodegradable garbage down a dark chute, or pollutants flushed down toilet/sink drainage pipes or emitted out of elevated exhaust pipes or spewed from sky-high jet engines and very tall smoke stacks — even the largest toxic-contaminant spills in rarely visited wilderness — can somehow be safely absorbed into the air, water, and land (i.e. out of sight, out of mind). It’s like we’re inconsequentially dispensing of that waste into a black-hole singularity, in which it’s compressed into nothing. Indeed, I, myself, notice every time I discard of trash, I receive a reactive Spring-cleaning-like sense of disposal satisfaction. [Hell, I even feel it, albeit far more innocently, when deleting and especially double-deleting email.]

Collectively, human existence is still essentially analogous to a cafeteria lineup consisting of diversely societally represented people, all adamantly arguing over which identifiable person should be at the front and, conversely, at the back of the line. Many of them further fight over to whom amongst them should go the last piece of quality pie and how much they should have to pay for it — all the while the interstellar spaceship on which they’re all permanently confined, owned and operated by (besides the wealthiest passengers) the fossil fuel industry, is on fire and toxifying at locations not normally investigated. As a species, we can be so heavily preoccupied with our own individual little worlds, however overwhelming to us, that we will miss the biggest of crucial pictures.

#2 Comment By Frank Sterle Jr. On February 6, 2022 @ 6:54 PM

With the unprecedented man-made global-warming-related extreme weather events, etcetera, I wonder how many fossil-fuel industry CEOs and/or their beloved family members may also be caught in climate change harm’s way?
Assuming the CEOs are not sufficiently foolish to believe their descendants will somehow always evade the health repercussions related to their industry’s environmentally reckless decisions, I wonder whether the unlimited-profit objective/nature is somehow irresistible to those business people, including the willingness to simultaneously allow an already squeezed consumer base to continue so — or be squeezed even further? It somewhat brings to mind the allegorical fox stung by the instinct-abiding scorpion while ferrying it across the river, leaving both to drown.

Still, there must be a point at which the lopsided status quo — where already large corporate profits are maintained or increased while many people are denied even basic securities, including environmental — can/will end up hurting big business’s own economic interests. I can imagine that a healthy, strong and large consumer base — and not just very wealthy consumers — are needed.