The Red Hill project in Australia, Montney Play of Christina Lake in Canada, the Hongshaquan mine in China, Hambach and Garzweiler’s in Germany… This list will largely determine the future of the planet. For the first time, researchers have identified and located the largest fossil fuel extraction projects in the world. They also gave them a name: “carbon bombs” or “climate bombs”, which they define as coal, oil and gas infrastructure that could emit more than a billion tons of CO2 during their working life.
According to this work, published on Thursday, May 12 in the magazine energy policy, the world now has 425 “climate bombs”, already in use or in the planning stage, spread across 48 countries. If all of them were harnessed to their full term, their combined potential emissions would represent twice the global carbon budget – i.e. the emissions ceiling – which should not be exceeded in hopes of keeping global warming to 1.5°C by comparison. with the pre-industrial era. Enough to negate the goals of the Paris climate agreement and the fight against climate change.
Closing the “carbon bombs”: a priority
In recent years, scientists, as well as the largest international organizations, have hammered away the need to get out of coal, oil and gas. “Major polluters must drastically reduce their emissions, now”the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, reiterated on 11 May. It means accelerating the end of our dependence on fossil fuels. †
However, the issue of fossil fuels, which are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions, has so far not been sufficiently central to climate negotiations, recalls Kjell Kühne, a PhD student at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. of the study, and also one of the founders of the Leave it in the Ground campaign, which launched in late 2011. COP26, held in Scotland in the autumn of 2021, marked the first-ever collective commitment of countries to reduce coal use.
“Conversations about what level of greenhouse gas emissions to achieve or percentage reductions can be very abstract, notes Kjell Kühne. The idea of ”climate bombs” is much more tangible and can help to know how to make a significant and concrete impact in each country. † Germany, for example, has two “carbon bombs,” that is, two lignite mines: closing them should be a priority, the study authors say. In total, 40% of the 425 projects and infrastructures had not yet entered production by 2020.
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