Oil and gas: keep it in the ground

Oil and gas pollute our lands, oceans and air, and fuel climate change. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to keep most of these dirty fuels in the ground. Yet powerful oil and gas companies keep pushing to tap dirtier, riskier and costlier sources: drilling in the Arctic, mining tar sands, and fracking shale oil and gas. Greenpeace is fighting back. We stand up for our coasts, our communities and our climate. We show polluting oil and gas have no future in the clean, safe and secure 100 percent renewable energy system we must have.

Oil — time to leave it behind

The last thing the world needs is more oil. Producing oil harms the environment, wildlife and people. Burning oil for energy, including transport, fuels climate change and chokes our cities with air pollution, making us sick.

The damage gets worse as companies tap oil sources that are dirtier, costlier and riskier to extract and refine, including highly-polluting mining of Canada's tar sands.

Supported by billions of dollars globally in tax breaks and subsidies, this dirty industry pollutes and profits at our expense.

At the same time, some fossil fuel companies spent millions to sow uncertainty and doubt about climate change science.

Drilling means spilling

The industry's global track record shows that where oil is drilled, blowouts and oil spills are a fact of life. Spills sicken and kill and are especially disastrous in water, where it's extremely rare to recover more than 20 percent of the oil spilled.

Arctic at risk

In the harsh but fragile Arctic environment, this spill clean-up rate is even worse, posing intolerable risks to the pristine polar environment and the millions of people who depend on it.

The terrible irony is that the oil industry is trying to drill in the melting Arctic to find more of the fossil fuels that are causing sea ice to vanish in the first place.

Greenpeace strongly opposes drilling for oil in the icy waters of the Arctic. It would unleash still more global warming and pollution. It would also further threaten vulnerable and little-understood ecosystems, the people who rely on them, and the unique polar species they support, such as narwhal and polar bears.

Gas — emissions and leaks fuel global warming

Like oil, burning gas (also called natural gas) produces greenhouse gas emissions, fuelling climate change.  

Unburned gas is also a big problem when it escapes. Methane, the main ingredient of natural gas, is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide.  (Methane is 84 times as powerful are carbon dioxide at disrupting the climate over a given 20-year period.)

Leaks and releases occur all through the natural gas supply chain. No one is sure exactly how much leaks, but where carefully measured, actual leaks can turn out to be significantly higher than government estimates.

Fracking and its dangers

Changes to technology have led to a rapid increase in fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing. Fossil fuel companies use fracking to break apart rock formations deep underground and extract oil and gas (also called shale oil or shale gas). Its high risks explain why public outrage has led to more and more bans on fracking.

Toxic water time bombs

When they frack, oil and gas companies lace massive amounts of water with "fracking fluid" chemicals, which are often toxic, and put massive pressures on this fluid when it is deep underground. Fracking can compete for water supplies where water is in short supply,

In the USA, the EPA has found many sites where fracking and shale drilling polluted groundwater. What is more, once fracking is done, huge volumes of contaminated water are left — creating a huge toxic waste challenge.  For disposal, the industry injects this contaminated water underground, a practice linked to an increase in earthquakes.

On top of that, some fracking wells in the USA have led to tremendous spikes in air pollution, and to methane leaks into the air, where it intensifies global warming.

What is Greenpeace doing?

Greenpeace is working planet-wide to speed up the shift away from dirty fossil fuels: oil, gas and coal.

The latest updates


How big oil tries to win us over using stealth tactics

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | 11 June, 2014 6 comments

What does it take to run a successful, modern oil company? You'd be forgiven for thinking it's just drills, pipelines, and lawyers. But there's an even more crucial element - the trust and approval of people like you and me. One...

Norway's inconvenient truth

Blog entry by Martin Norman | 6 June, 2014

Norway is known to be a beautiful country, with a long coastline, ranging mountains and lush forests. We are generally tolerant people, with a strong sense of right and wrong. We believe in peace. And we believe in nature. So when...

A small flag stopped the Norwegian coastguard from ending our protest. Now a...

Blog entry by Ana Mules | 30 May, 2014 3 comments

Our brave activists have now delayed the giant oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen for over 80 hours, first by occupying the rig and now by occupying the drill site with the ship Esperanza. And as long as they stay there, Statoil can’t...

The "get lost zone" - a novel concept in international law

Blog entry by Daniel Simons | 30 May, 2014 15 comments

Desperate times call for desperate measures. That seems to be the thinking of Norway's Petroleum Ministry, which yesterday issued a highly irregular order in an attempt to bring an end to the Esperanza's peaceful protest in the Barents...

Norway creates impromptu safety zone around drilling site as Greenpeace cries foul

Press release | 30 May, 2014 at 9:16

Barents Sea, 30 May 2014 - Late last night Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum informed the Greenpeace ship Esperanza of the creation of 'safety zone' around a drilling site in the Barents sea. Esperanza is currently occupying the site preventing...

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