climate change energy

The 10 worst dirty energy projects

If the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, there needs to be a dramatic shift towards renewable energy. If we continue burning fossil fuels the way we do today, the world may warm by as much as 5 degrees. Changing that possible future means leaving fossil fuels in the ground.

Unfortunately they are hugely profitable, and those in possession of fossil fuel reserves have every intention of exploiting them. A recent study for Greenpeace identified 14 energy projects that, if they all go ahead, will increase global CO2 emissions by 20% between them. It is worth naming these projects, because to put it simply, the liveability of the planet may rest with the governments and corporations behind these schemes.

  1. China’s coal production: China plans to develop the coal production of its Northern territories, increasing coal production by a further 620 million tonnes.
  2. Australia’s coal exports: the country plans to increase coal exports by 408 million tonnes a year above 2011 levels, creating 1,200 million tonnes of CO2 emissions
    year once the coal is burned.
  3. Arctic oil: As climate change warms the arctic, there is a rush to exploit its newly accessible resources. Arctic oil and gas could add 520 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2020, and 1,200 million tonnes by 2030.
  4. Iraqi oil: After years of underinvestment, Iraq is ramping up its oil production by a further 4.9 million barrels a day by 2035.
  5. Canada’s tar sands: Already one of the most damaging environmental projects on earth, the current plan calls for a tripling of production. By 2035 this would add 706 million tonnes of CO2 to global emissions every year.
  6. US coal: All the attention is on US shale, but the plans to expand coal production through the Pacific North West will ultimately be more damaging to the climate.
  7. Brazil’s offshore oil: Brazil’s offshore oil fields were the biggest oil find in the Western hemisphere for decades. Bringing them online will turn Brazil into a major oil producer and a big new source of CO2 emissions.
  8. Africa’s gas: Gas production in Africa is expected to rise from 64 billion cubic metres
    in 2015 to 250 billion cubic metres in 2035, adding hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 in the process.
  9. Indonesian coal: Plans major investment in coal exports from Borneo, adding 460 million tonnes of CO2 a year.
  10. US offshore oil: The planned increase in offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will produce the same emissions as the whole of France every year.

Here they are on the map. You won’t be able to see all the detail at this scale, but see the Point of No Return report for the full size version.



  1. Hi thanks for this and the link for the report. I read the last bit of the executive summary from the report and this is what they say: “The world is clearly at a Point of No Return: either replacecoal, oil and gas with renewable energy, or face a futureturned upside down by climate change.” Don’t you think this is a half-truth? What renewable energy sources are there to replace the current increasing energy demand needs? We are not talking about tackling consumption but rather replacing what we have and are planning to have. Thanks Bruno

    Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2013 15:26:00 +0000 To:

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:
    A timely reminder of the pressing energy issues of our time. In the midst of ‘green talk’ and sustainability requirements, many projects are being encouraged which do not have long-term social and environmental justice interests in mind. It is important, as consumers, that we remain vigilant to the sources of our domestic energy consumption – thanks Jeremy for posting this up.

  3. Let’s not forget free trade as a major cause of pollution across the board.

    Free trade is a major cause behind our economic crisis and our
    environment conditions. Free trade is based on moving production from
    place for the sake of cheaper labor. It is also used to escaped
    government pollution regulations. Free trade depends on consumption
    economics to keep the process going. It is a throw away rather than
    restoring process.
    Throw away economics creates massive junk with only a small percentage
    recycled. We also have accepted the packaging of products to protect
    the products in transit and as way to market the products. Sometimes
    the packaging accounts for more garbage than what is in the package.
    This was unheard of the in past. Growing up in a family food store, I
    had to debate with customers to just accept a new free paper bag to
    carry home their food items. Shoppers back then were concerned about
    the environment and the extra costs of packaging. Products like bulk
    cookies were preferred over packaged ones as being something better.
    Today, products like energy saving light bulbs are made under dirty
    manufacturing conditions in China where mercury is out in the open. We
    call the bulbs the 8000 mile light bulb since it takes 8000 miles of
    energy to get the light bulb to market.
    Here’s the kicker – Only about twenty large container cargo ships
    pollute the world more than all the automobiles in the world. And at
    least 2000 more new ships like this are being built.
    Free trade has failed in many ways including degrading the environments
    of the world. See

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