Latest reports suggest that the United States plans to extract more oil and gas than ever before in 2023, a year that is certain to be the hottest ever recorded, providing a daunting backdrop to crucial United Nations climate talks that hold the hope of an agreement to end the era of fossil fuels.
The US is said to have passed its first major climate legislation, called the Inflation Reduction Act, which has spurred record investment in clean energy such as solar and wind, as well as propel sales of electric vehicles under president Joe Biden.
According to reports, the US’s status as the world’s leading oil and gas behemoth only strengthened this year, even amid warnings from Biden himself over the unfolding climate crisis, with the latest federal government forecast showing a record 12.9m barrels of crude oil, more than double what was produced a decade ago, will be extracted in 2023.
It is also expected that records will be broken this year for gas production, with a glut of new export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico coast facilitating a boom that will see US exports of liquified natural gas (or LNG) double in the next four years.
The US government expects this frenzy of oil and gas activity to continue at near-record levels right up to 2050, a point at which scientists say planet-heating emissions must be eliminated to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.
A third of the world’s planned oil and gas expansion in this period will occur in the US, a recent report found.
At the Cop28 climate summit, which begins in Dubai this week, the European Union and a cadre of “high ambition” countries that range from Kenya to Samoa will push for an agreed “phaseout” of fossil fuels.
Antonio Guterres, secretary general of the UN, has called fossil fuel production the “poisonous root” of the climate crisis that should be dismantled.
“Cop28 must send a clear signal that the fossil fuel age is out of gas, that its end is inevitable,” he was quoted as saying.
Michael Lazarus, a senior scientist at Stockholm Environment Institute, said that the US’s surging fossil fuel production casts a pall over such ambitions.
“It’s particularly alarming to see the projections of record US oil and gas production year after year until 2050,” said Lazaru, whose institute helped produce a recent UN report finding the world is planning double the amount of fossil fuel production consistent with remaining within a 1.5C (2.7F) global temperature rise compared to pre-industrial times.
“The US is locking in production for years that makes it hard to meet climate goals,” he said. “It’s out of sync and it needs reckoning.”
Story was adapted from the Guardian.