Report: ‘Carbon Bombs’ Are Poised to Screw Us Over Big Time

Report: ‘Carbon Bombs’ Are Poised to Screw Us Over Big Time
Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation near McKittrick, California. (Photo: David McNew, Getty Images)

Oil and gas companies are gearing up to invest in so many new projects that they’ll blow away potential progress to mitigate emissions and stop worst-case climate scenarios, says a new investigation from the Guardian.

Why describe them as bombs? If completed, these projects would push climate change well past the 1.5-degree Celsius warming target that the Paris Agreement has set for the world. These projects would literally blow through our carbon budget, the Guardian reports.

But how will this be financed? Oil prices are currently sky high at the pump, and the two largest petroleum companies in the U.S. — Chevron and ExxonMobil — have raked in record profits. That means that large fossil fuel companies can bet on expansion projects that could dish even bigger payouts, the Guardian found. All this despite the fact that we have a very harrowing three-year deadline to rapidly lower emissions if we want to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (which we really, really need to do).

The Guardian’s investigation found that about 60% of these projects are already pumping, and Canada, Australia, and the U.S. are among the nations with the biggest fossil fuel project expansion plans. The commitment to these projects is pretty clear. Large companies, including Shell, Chevron, BP, PetroChina, and Total Energies, are set to spend over $US100 ($139) million a day for the rest of this decade on creating projects in new oil and gas fields. This is despite the fact that we might be on track to meet 1.5 degrees of warming in the next four years.

Additional fossil fuel projects are going to push us over the edge at break-neck speed. It doesn’t matter if it blows up in everyone’s faces, because some people will be very rich, and they aren’t the ones who will suffer the worst effects of environmental disasters.

Big Oil has a knack for pushing the consequences of their actions down to consumers trapped in our current system. They knew their operations were contributing to the climate crisis decades ago and silenced scientists who tried to speak up. Many of these same companies have known, too, that our recycling system wasn’t a real solution to reducing waste. And now our oceans are filled with trash, our water reservoirs are drying up, and extreme fires and storm are the new normal. This “bomb” has been years in the making, to our detriment and on our dime.