The problem

Our hundred year reliance on oil is at a turning point. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico put the spotlight on the far reaching consequences that our addiction to oil is having on the natural world and on the climate.

Today, oil is being used to power most of our vehicles, making us all dependent on it in some way - to get our food, to see our loved ones or to go on holiday. There are millions of cars, buses, trucks, ships and planes moving around our cities, our country, oceans and skies, connecting people and moving stuff around the world. But all of these vehicles need millions of gallons of oil to keep them going every day. And that’s taking a toll on the air we breathe, on our energy security, our economy, the environment and our climate.

But the giant oil fields that the industry hoped would last forever are starting to run dry. Faced with increasing restraints on access to the easy oil, companies are pushing in to areas previously considered too inaccessible, expensive or too risky to exploit. And this means going to greater and greater extremes to squeeze the last drops of oil from the earth - scraping the barrel in the tar sands of Canada, potentially violating the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic and now the pristine coastlines of New Zealand

This map shows current and proposed areas of oil exploration, drilling, and coal mining, and the climate-changing potential of those coal deposits. *The size of the oil deposits – and so the amount of potential CO2 emissions - within the new permit areas and block offers is not yet known.

If these places are exploited, and the oil burnt, we will be on track for a six degree rise in global average temperatures. Two degrees is generally accepted by scientists and governments as the tipping point of dangerous climate change. Scientists say a rise of six degrees in average global temperatures would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the planet and threaten our very survival. This is the path we are on right now. But if we transform our transport and energy systems this doesn’t have to be the pathway we follow.

At the moment, millions of dollars of our money is going into subsidising risky oil, and keeping us stuck in the oil age. Our governments are propping up the oil companies with tax breaks and subsidies, and they’re allowing oil companies to exploit our natural world. In the long run, our addiction to oil will cost us far more.

If we do nothing, climate change will cost us around 20% of total gross domestic product (GDP) over the next half century. That's more than the cost of both world wars and the great depression put together. But if we act now to mitigate it, the cost would only be about one per cent of total economic growth. That's the same amount of money we spend on global advertising. Surely our survival is more important than billboards and TV adverts.

The latest updates

 

Britain's chronic dependence on oil

Blog entry by John Sauven | March 8, 2011

Melting icebergs in the path of rigs in the Arctic, the latest oil frontier. © Will Rose / Greenpeace Disquiet around fuel prices always makes ministers sit up and take notice. This is the fourth time in a decade that spiraling...

Month in Pictures - February 2011

Image gallery | March 7, 2011

Activist faces up to 10 years in prison for peacefully challenging big oil

Blog entry by Henia Belalia | February 22, 2011

( Read the original post on the Greenpeace USA site. ) This is the story of an ordinary citizen (Tim DeChristopher) taking creative peaceful direct action to disrupt, as he put it, a “fraud against the American people and a...

Who's going to defend the Arctic?

Blog entry by jamie | January 20, 2011

The masters at Marvel comics would struggle to find bad guys worse than these. Take two of the world’s biggest environmental villains – Russian Rosneft (special powers: oil leaks. 7,526 in 2009 alone ) and British BP (special...

Listen up Gerry

Blog entry by Nick Young | January 13, 2011

Don't think we never agree with government agencies. Yesterday, we did - when the final report from the US National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill came out. Essentially, it's what Greenpeace and other...

Game: Big Oil Vs Greenpeace to save the Arctic

Blog entry by nyoung | December 16, 2010

It may not be the most festive of themes, but at least our holiday gift to you this year is not a tie or socks. It's a free print & play board game called Deepsea Desperation. It's all about Greenpeace against Big Oil, with one...

The World Energy Congress kicks off with a splash

Blog entry by Julien Vincent | September 13, 2010

This is how all energy industry events should begin. The World Energy Congress kicks off today in Montreal and as delegates arrived at the conference venue, hundreds of demonstrators were there to tell them that the industry needs...

Ice ice baby

Blog entry by nyoung | September 13, 2010

Lisa writes from the Esperanza in the Atlantic Ocean We're now in the Atlantic Ocean heading for Europe - escorted by sea gulls gliding alongside us as the swells rock us from side to side. The Arctic...

In the wake of the BP oil spill disaster, news of another oil rig explosion

Blog entry by nyoung | September 3, 2010

A blog from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise currently in the Gulf of Mexico ... This morning reports from the USA are that another oil rig, the Vermillion 380, has exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, risking the lives of at least...

Greenpeace Activists End Arctic Oil Rig Occupation

Feature story | September 3, 2010 at 1:25

Severe weather has forced activists to end their occupation of the Stena Don oil rig in the Arctic last night: after two days of hanging some 15 meters above the frigid Arctic waters and forcing the rigs operators, Cairn Energy, to suspend...

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