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


Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise detained in Spain following oil protest

Press release | 18 November, 2014 at 22:06

Lanzarote, Spain, 18 November 2014 - The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has today been detained by Spanish authorities in the port of Arrecife, Lanzarote, following last Saturday's peaceful protest by Greenpeace against oil drilling by Repsol, in...

Video: Activist hospitalised after boats rammed during peaceful protest against oil...

Blog entry by Andrew | 15 November, 2014 42 comments

Update - 18 November: The Ministry of Public Works and Transportation has orderd the detention of the Arctic Sunrise . Mario Rodriguez, director of Greenpeace Spain, said in response... "It’s telling that the Spanish...

Greenpeace activist hospitalised after Spanish Navy rams boats in oil protest

Press release | 15 November, 2014 at 16:39

Amsterdam, 15 November 2014 – One activist was hospitalised and another injured as Spanish Navy boats today repeatedly rammed Greenpeace boats engaged in a peaceful protest by Greenpeace Spain against oil drilling in the Canary Islands, Spain.

The Berlin Wall of oil begins to crumble

Blog entry by Steve Abel | 7 October, 2014 4 comments

The Berlin wall was a symbol of the Soviet era like no other. When it was finally dismantled in 1989 it signalled the end of a system that had stood for nearly 70 years. A system that shaped the political landscape of the 20th century...

ExxonMobil halts drilling in Russian Arctic in response to sanctions - Greenpeace...

Press release | 19 September, 2014 at 16:15

London, 19 September 2014 - According to recent media reports, ExxonMobil has halted its attempt to drill an exploration well in the Arctic’s Kara Sea, following the announcement of new sanctions from the EU and US governments. The project was...

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