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Massive Global Pipeline Expansion Threatens Climate Goals

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Report calls plans for 15,000 miles of new pipe “an almost deliberate failure.”

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Some 15,000 miles of new oil pipelines are under development around the world, a distance equivalent to almost twice the Earth’s diameter, a report has revealed. The projects, led by the US, Russia, China, and India, are “dramatically at odds with plans to limit global warming to 1.5 C or 2 C”, the researchers said.

The oil pumped through the pipelines would produce at least 5.5 billion tons of CO2 a year if completed, equivalent to the emissions of the US, the world’s second largest polluter. About 40 percent of the pipelines are already under construction, with the rest in planning. Global carbon emissions must drop by 50 percent by 2030 to keep on track with internationally agreed targets for limiting global heating.

The developers of the roughly 6,200 miles of pipelines in construction stand to lose up to $75 billion if action on the climate crisis prevents the new pipelines being fully used, according to the analysts at Global Energy Monitor (GEM) who produced the report.

Russia, which is facing oil and gas boycotts from the west over the war in Ukraine and wants to increase exports to India and China, is developing about 1,250 miles of new pipelines.

Regionally, sub-Saharan Africa is leading the world in pipeline development, with about 1,250 miles of oil pipelines already under construction and an additional 2,800 miles proposed. The projects include the controversial East African crude oil pipeline, which will transport oil drilled from a national park in Uganda to an export terminal on the coast of Tanzania.

“For governments endorsing these new pipelines, the report shows an almost deliberate failure to meet climate goals,” said Baird Langenbrunner at GEM. “Despite climate targets threatening to render fossil fuel infrastructure as stranded assets, the world’s biggest consumers of fossil fuels, led by the US and China, are doubling down on oil pipeline expansion.”

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