The United States is poised 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’s status as the world’s leading oil and gas behemoth has only strengthened this year, even amid warnings from Joe 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.
Records will also 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.
Tellingly, 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, starting 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. António 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 said.
The US’s surging fossil fuel production casts a pall over such ambitions, however. “It’s particularly alarming to see the projections of record US oil and gas production year after year until 2050,” said Michael Lazarus, a senior scientist at Stockholm Environment Institute, which 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 with pre-industrial times. [Continue reading…]