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

 

Danish Navy Seals ready to meet our ship?

Blog entry by nyoung | August 18, 2010

Ben Stewart, comms officer onboard the Esperanza writes... Well I have to say, I didn’t expect that. Yesterday afternoon I was on the rowing machine at the back of the ship as we bobbed along somewhere north of Scotland when...

Greenpeace confronts reckless oil exploration

Feature story | August 15, 2010 at 12:11

Greenpeace is sending two ships to the frontiers of the world's oil problem. The Esperanza, currently off shore from the United Kingdom will be confronting the kind of reckless oil exploration that keeps wrecking our environment. In the Gulf of...

Where is the Esperanza going? We're not saying... yet

Blog entry by nyoung | August 13, 2010

Lisa Vickers aboard the Esperanza in the UK writes... I’m on the Greenpeace’s ship Esperanza and we're leaving London today. I can’t tell you where we’re going yet, but I can tell you that we are off to confront the oil...

Oily people at Muriwai

Image gallery | July 26, 2010

Oily people point to a dirty reality

Blog entry by Jay Harkness | July 26, 2010

The pictures coming from the Gulf of Mexico are horrible; birds covered in oil, enormous plumes of crude lying just below the surface; thousands of barrels worth of oil gushing into the sea each day. And beaches covered in the stuff.

Trevor Kaukau and the oily people at Muriwai beach

Image | July 25, 2010 at 11:51

Trevor Kaukau, who along with 19 other Greenpeace supporters at Muriwai beach covered themselves in 'oil' to send a strong message to the Government to stop its plans for the drilling of new deep water oil wells off New Zealand's coast.

Oily people at Muriwai

Image | July 25, 2010 at 11:46

Harold Phillips, along with 19 other Greenpeace supporters at Muriwai beach who covered themselves in 'oil' to send a strong message to the Government to stop its plans for the drilling of new deep water oil wells off New Zealand's coast.

Oily people at Muriwai

Image | July 25, 2010 at 11:38

Greenpeace volunteers at Muriwai beach covered themselves in 'oil' to send a strong message to the Government to stop its plans for the drilling of new deep water oil wells off New Zealand's coast.

Oil spill in China worsens

Feature story | July 22, 2010 at 5:25

We continue to keep a close watch on the development of the oil spill in Dalian, China, which has already cost the life of a firemen and continues to grow, posing an increasingly severe threat to the area’s coastal ecosystem.

A big win for people power

Blog entry by Nick Young | July 20, 2010

Lucy Lawless heads the March Against Mining Today the Government announced a complete u-turn on plans to mine New Zealand's best conservation land. There will be no mining in Schedule 4 land or any national parks now or in the...

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