pump jack drilling for oil

What ending fossil fuel extraction across the world would look like

Washington Post: What if the entire world stopped extracting fossil fuels? Here’s what it would take to phase out oil, gas and coal, writes Shannon Osaka in the Washington Post.

In a nutshell:

Calls to halt fossil fuel extraction have gained momentum, particularly during events like New York's Climate Week. These appeals are centered on the urgent need to address global temperature rise. However, abruptly ending fossil fuel production worldwide would have catastrophic consequences. Fossil fuels play a crucial role in providing essential power and fuel for transportation. A sudden halt would result in widespread blackouts, disrupt supply chains, and lead to shortages of essential goods. Activists and experts are advocating for a more nuanced approach, focusing on preventing new fossil fuel extraction while transitioning to renewable energy sources and technologies to achieve emission reduction goals. Balancing the phase-out of fossil fuels with the expansion of renewables remains a complex challenge in the pursuit of cleaner energy solutions.

Key quote:

“The expectation isn’t that extraction will stop everywhere in the world,” said Kelly Trout, the research co-director at Oil Change International. Many groups are focused on preventing new oil and gas extraction, in line with models that show that any new oil and gas production will take the world over the 1.5-degrees-Celsius goal.

The big picture:

Immediate cessation of fossil fuel use would have significant health and environmental repercussions. Sudden discontinuation would disrupt electricity grids, causing widespread blackouts and impeding essential services. The transportation sector, heavily reliant on oil, would face severe disruptions, impacting the delivery of goods and potentially causing food shortages. Such a move would necessitate a rapid transition to renewable energy sources, which, if not well-planned, could lead to job displacement and social challenges. A measured shift towards renewable energy from fossil fuels promotes energy stability, economic sustainability, and a more effective response to climate change.

Read the article in the Washington Post.

Be sure to read Brian Bienkowski's piece analyzing the growth of renewable energy from 2009 to 2019.

Print Friendly and PDF
From our Newsroom
climate change health care

Severe flooding increasingly cutting people off from health care

Many more Americans will find themselves regularly cut off from essential services — long before water actually reaches their homes, a recent study predicts.

Heat, air pollution and climate change … oh my! Was summer 2023 the new normal?

Heat, air pollution and climate change … oh my! Was summer 2023 the new normal?

Intense heat waves induced by climate change create favorable conditions for air pollution to worsen. Scientists say this isn’t likely to change unless action is taken.

environmental justice

Agents of Change in Environmental Justice program accepting applications

Do you find that public voices in science are lacking diversity and want to help create change? We want to hear from you.

Calor, aire contaminado y cambio climático…¿Es el verano de 2023 nuestro futuro?

Calor, aire contaminado y cambio climático…¿Es el verano de 2023 nuestro futuro?

Intensas olas de calor provocadas por el cambio climático, crearon condiciones que empeoraron la contaminación del aire. Los científicos dicen que nada cambiará sin intervenciones.

BADGE BPA chemical

BPA's evil cousin

An ongoing series examining BADGE — an unregulated danger in epoxy resins.

navajo children

Opinion: Protecting Indigenous children means protecting water

We need to stop compartmentalizing the environment, family and culture as separate problems.