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

 

The World’s Biggest Carbon Bomb

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | September 21, 2011

Deep Green is Rex Weyler's monthly column, reflecting on the roots of activism, environmentalism, and Greenpeace's past, present, and future. The opinions here are his own. And the fuses that threaten to set it off Three...

Skating on thin ice

Blog entry by Joss Garmen | September 16, 2011

Each morning over their coffee some of the most powerful people in the world turn to the financial pages of their newspapers to check on the health of their investments by looking at how the Dow Jones and the FTSE 100 are performing...

As sea-ice retreats, still no oil found in the Arctic

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | September 14, 2011

This month sees the Arctic sea ice minimum, a litmus test for the health of the global climate, with indications suggesting the extent in 2011 could be the lowest level ever. Arctic sea ice acts like the planet’s air...

Verdict: Cairn's oil spill plan is outlandish, simplistic and "wholly inadequate"

Blog entry by Bex - Greenpeace UK | September 1, 2011

Earlier this month, after more than 100,000 of you asked Cairn Energy to open up its Arctic oil spill response plan to public scrutiny, the government of Greenland stepped in and published it . The verdict is now in. Veteran...

A couple questions for Shell

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | August 18, 2011

What does the ongoing North Sea oil spill say about Shell’s plans to open up the Arctic , where an accident would be all but impossible to clean up? Personally, it seems to me that if Shell can’t get it right in the supposedly...

The spectre of Shell

Blog entry by Cindy Baxter | August 17, 2011

'The flames of Shell are flames of Hell, We bask below their light, Nought for us to serve the blight, Of cursed neglect and cursed Shell.” - Ogoni protest song, circa 1970. As global oil reserves run low, the oil...

Published: Cairn's oil spill response plan!

Blog entry by Bex - Greenpeace UK | August 16, 2011

You know that oil spill response plan that Cairn has been refusing to publish? The one that tens of thousands of you asked to see? The one we went to the Arctic and to Cairn's Edinburgh HQ to look for? The one they were so worried...

Risky business in the far north

Blog entry by Ben Ayliffe | August 9, 2011

Today Cairn Energy published the latest operational update for its risky oil drilling off Greenland and the news, at least for the wildcat oil company, was far from good. For the second year in succession Cairn has announced it...

Join the rebellion and turn VW away from the dark side

Blog entry by Andrew Davies | June 29, 2011

It’s not every day you’re called to step up in defence of your planet – but today is one of those days. A few moments ago we launched a new global campaign to change Volkswagen by turning them away from the Dark Side, and we need...

Thank you from Kumi

Blog entry by Nick Young | June 23, 2011

Global Greenpeace head Kumi Naidoo and his fellow activist Ulvar Arnkvaern have now been released from custody and are renewing their call for Cairn Energy to release it's Arctic oil spill response plan. In this video Kumi talks...

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