New study reveals how to cut carbon emissions by 100M tons per year by 2030
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The Keep It in the Ground campaign has built a powerful movement demanding climate action. By standing strong against the sale of public lands and waters to fossil fuel empires, activists have shined a spotlight on fossil fuel leasing and helped delay and shutter new projects. The question that has been asked about the campaign is whether keeping fossil fuels in the ground in the United States can actually reduce the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Friends of the Earth commissioned a report from the Stockholm Environment Institute to analyze just what the impact ceasing the issuance of new federal leases for fossil fuel extraction would have on global climate change.
The report’s key findings are:
- Phasing out federal leases for fossil fuel extraction could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 100 million tons per year by 2030, and by greater amounts thereafter – an impact comparable to that of other major climate policies under consideration by the Obama administration.
- Since 2010, U.S. fossil fuel production has grown by 20 percent in energy terms, to record levels. About a quarter of the fuels being extracted, including two-fifths of all coal, come from federal lands and waters leased to producers by the U.S. Department of Interior.
- To be consistent with the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, the U.S. would need to cut aggregate fossil fuel production by 40–60 percent from current levels by 2040. Under current policies, however (including the Clean Power Plan), production is expected to rise by 11 percent.
- Ceasing to issue new leases for fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and waters, and avoiding renewals of existing leases for resources that are not yet producing, would likely lead to a steady decline in U.S. coal production. Oil and gas extraction would likely drop as well, but more slowly.
The report has garnered immediate interest in the media. Upon this writing, The Guardian, Inside Climate News, Politico and E&E News have written about it. We hope that this builds additional support among policymakers for an end to leasing on public lands and waters.
When presenting the vision for a balanced and prosperous energy future, Secretary of the Department of the Interior Sally Jewell asked, “How do we manage the program in a way that is consistent with our climate change objectives?” It’s now clear that keeping fossil fuels in the ground must be part of any meaningful climate platform.
Keeping fossil fuels in the ground is essential for the transition to a clean energy economy that is consistent with U.S. climate change objectives, and the federal government should take immediate action to stop all new fossil fuel leasing on federal lands and waters.