Study supports Keep It in the Ground call to President Obama
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Our public lands and water are “over-leased” according a new study from EcoShift Consulting, for the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth.
The study – Over-Leased: How Production Horizons of Already Leased Federal Fossil Fuels Outlast Global Carbon Budgets – suggests that avoiding the worst of climate catastrophe requires not only ending new federal fossil fuel leases, but also keeping significant amounts of already leased fossil fuels in the ground.
The study projects the number of years’ worth of remaining production, or production horizons, from currently leased federal fossil fuels. These production horizons are compared to global carbon budgets – how much the world can emit to have a “likely” (66 percent probability) chance of limiting global temperatures to 1.5°C and 2°C. The results reveal that production horizons for federal crude oil, coal and natural gas will last for decades beyond the dates by which the global carbon budgets for both 1.5°C and 2°C are exceeded:
- Crude oil under federal lease would last 39 years, through 2055;
- Coal under federal lease would last 25 years, through 2041;
- Natural gas under federal lease would last 28 years, through 2044.
Figure 1 courtesy EcoShift Consulting. This image is available for media use.
At current emissions rates, the global carbon budgets for 1.5°C and 2°C are exceeded in 2021 and 2036, respectively. In either case, the production horizons for all three federal fossil fuels extend for several years and up to decades past when global carbon budgets are exceeded. Put another way, more federal fossil fuels have already been leased to private industry than can be burned to avoid dangerous levels of global warming, and each new lease only locks in fossil fuel dependence for decades to come.
The study’s findings support the call to President Obama by hundreds of organizations and over 100,000 people to immediately halt new federal fossil fuel leasing – a step that will keep up to 450 billion tons of potential carbon pollution in the ground and prevent 100 million tons in annual emissions through 2030. To meet U.S. climate goals under the Paris Agreement and to safeguard public lands and waters for present and future generations, all new federal fossil fuel leasing must end and existing leases must be phased out.