Greenpeace Analysis: Climate Progress Impossible Without Confronting the Fossil Fuel Industry

by Ryan Schleeter

June 6, 2019

A new report from Greenpeace USA finds that the United States must pair new investments in renewable energy with a responsible phase-out of oil, gas, and coal production in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Original analysis shows that the United States could run on 100 percent renewable energy and still export enough oil to undermine global progress on cutting carbon emissions if the country does not reduce domestic production.

Greenpeace USA Senior Research Specialist and lead author of the report Tim Donaghy, PhD said:

“It should be obvious that we can’t fight climate change and expand fossil fuel use at the same time, but still too many politicians are buying into fossil fuel executives’ myth that we need oil, gas, and coal to survive. The exact opposite is true, and right now we need leaders who have the mettle to stand up to the industry at the center of the climate crisis and reclaim our democracy and economy. The science demands our next president initiate nothing short of a full-scale mobilization to phase out fossil fuels and kickstart the renewable energy economy.”

If the United States is successful in reducing its own oil consumption, but continues to expand oil production, the surplus oil will be exported and burned overseas. Because of this, investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure jeopardizes Paris climate targets at home and abroad, setting the stage for climate crisis. This threat remains even as renewable energy scales up globally.

The report details policies the next president and Congress should pursue to phase out fossil fuels and pave the way towards a renewable energy economy, including:

  • Ending federal fossil fuel leasing, currently responsible for one-quarter of US carbon emissions, via executive action on day one in office. [1]
  • Fully accounting for the costs of climate change in federal permitting and decision-making.
  • Ending subsidies and finance for fossil fuel production, which currently sits at $20 billion per year. [2]
  • Restoring the crude oil export ban, and expanding it to other fossil fuels.
  • Engaging with workers and communities to ensure a just transition, including job creation and training, strong labor protections, and targeted investments in impacted communities.

In Greenpeace’s 2020 climate candidate ranking [3] released last week, no candidate received more than two points out of a possible ten for their position on phasing out fossil fuels. Those who received partial credit are Jay Inslee, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marianne Williamson.

ENDS

Notes:

[1] https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2018/5131/sir20185131.pdf

[2] http://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2017/10/OCI_US-Fossil-Fuel-Subs-2015-16_Final_Oct2017.pdf

[3] The interactive candidate scorecard is available here, a detailed breakdown by candidate is available here, and the scoring methodology is available here.

To maintain independence, Greenpeace USA does not endorse or oppose any political party, candidate, or elected official. We work to hold all candidates for office to the standard that science says is necessary to avert climate crisis, which means supporting a Green New Deal and ending fossil fuels.

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (415) 342-2386, ryan.schleeter@greenpeace.org

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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