Great opportunity for Australia to stop ‘Planet Wrecking’ – inexcusable to continue

Figure 5 from study: Top 20 Planet Wrecker countries by capacity to fund a fast and fair transition relative to degree of economic dependence on oil and gas

“All of this action must be global. It must be immediate.
And it must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry. […]

“Fossil fuel industry transition plans must be transformation plans […] away from a product incompatible with human survival. Otherwise, they are just proposals to become more efficient planet-wreckers.”

– United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, June 15, 20231

New Report Puts Australia in Top-5 List of Planet Wrecking Countries

13 September 2023 — A small group of countries is driving new oil and gas expansion, and if allowed to proceed, would lock in climate chaos and an unlivable future, a new report by Oil Change International reveals.

Twenty countries have been exposed as being responsible for nearly 90 per cent of carbon dioxide pollution threatened by new oil and gas fields and fracking wells planned between 2023 and 2050 with Australia making an appearance in the report’s top 5 planet wrecker category.

The report finds that Australia is poised to be the world’s eighth-largest expander of oil and gas extraction from 2023 to 2050 and ranks Australia as the world’s third-largest exporter of fossil fuel pollution. This, despite the report identifying Australia as one of five other countries (including the United States, Canada, Norway and the United Kingdom) as being wealthy and economically diversified, with a low level of dependence on oil and gas revenues and, therefore, a high capacity to manage a fast transition away from oil and gas.

Pacific Islands Climate Action Network Regional Coordinator, Lavetanalagi Seru says:

“Australia’s treachery is once again laid bare for all to see. This report cuts through the supposed change in rhetoric on climate by the Albanese Government and exposes Australia for what it truly is: a captive of the fossil fuel industry shackled to its insidious agenda.

It’s unfathomable that the Australian government continues to stoke the flames of the climate crisis, despite the brutal scars of unprecedented bushfires and floods etched into its landscape, and with full knowledge of the profound impacts that the fossil fuel industry inflicts upon First Nations communities and the Pacific.

With the window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C rapidly closing, a global fossil fuel phase-out that is fast, fair and funded must be our paramount priority. Pacific Leaders must strongly insist on Australia to course correct before lending its support to the COP31 bid.” Pacific Managing Director, Joseph Sikulu says,

“As a Tongan who currently resides on Dharug Country, I am disappointed in Australia’s insistence on fossil fuel expansion. It is short-sighted and inconsistent with their portrayed “big brother” role in the Pacific. Countless indigenous communities across Australia have resisted these fossil fuel projects, battling displacement, health implications and threats to water security. Similarly, Pacific Islanders continue to fight for the right to survive, free from the claws of the climate crisis. This report clearly states that Australia and other top polluters must, not only end coal, oil and gas expansion, but also ramp up energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions globally.

Analysis shows it is possible to replace fossil fuels with better alternatives, increasing ethical renewable energy to 1.5 terawatts per year, while curbing energy consumption. To ensure our people aren’t left behind in this transition, nations like Australia must commit to a phase-out as well as deploy climate finance to help their Pacific “vuvale” with renewable energy transitions of their own. These are our demands of a potential partner for an “Australia-Pacific COP31”.


● ‘Planet Wreckers’ Report by Oil Change International available here

● Country factsheet on Australia based on report available here

● Images Available here

Planet Wreckers: How 20 Countries’ Oil and Gas Extraction Plans Risk Locking in Climate Chaos



Published by Oil Change International


Download the report
Download country specific factsheets: US, Canada, Australia, Norway, UK

Read the press release

Only 20 countries, led overwhelmingly by the United States, are responsible for nearly 90 percent of the carbon-dioxide (CO2) pollution threatened by new oil and gas fields and fracking wells planned between 2023 and 2050. If this oil and gas expansion is allowed to proceed, it would lock in climate chaos and an unlivable future.

This new report, titled Planet Wreckers: How 20 Countries’ Oil and Gas Extraction Plans Risk Locking in Climate Chaos, is released days ahead of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ Climate Ambition Summit in New York City. Guterres has called for countries to show up with commitments to stop oil and gas expansion and plan a phase out of existing production in line with the 1.5°C limit.

The report shows that:

  • Only 20 Planet Wrecker countries are responsible for nearly 90 percent of the carbon-dioxide (CO2) pollution from new oil and gas fields and fracking wells planned between 2023 and 2050.
  • If these 20 Planet Wreckers said “no” to their planned new oil and gas production, as the UN Secretary General is urging them to, 173 billion tonnes (Gt) of carbon pollution would be kept in the ground. That is equivalent to the lifetime pollution of nearly 1,100 new coal plants, or more than 30 years of annual U.S. carbon emissions.
  • Oil and gas expansion by the 20 Planet Wrecker countries would make it impossible to hold temperature rise to 1.5°C. Even extracting just the fossil fuels from existing sites globally would result in 140 percent more carbon pollution than the allowed budget for 1.5°C. If these countries proceed with their new extraction, committed carbon pollution will be 190 percent over the 1.5°C budget, risking locking in more than a dangerous 2°C of warming.
  • Stopping new oil and gas would put the world closer to a 1.5°C aligned emissions trajectory but would not be enough. Without any new oil and gas fields or licenses anywhere, global oil and gas production would decline by two percent per year to 2030 and by five percent per year from 2030 to 2050. However, limiting heating to 1.5°C requires governments to go further by closing down already producing fields.
  • The United States is Planet Wrecker In Chief, accounting for more than one-third of planned global oil and gas expansion through 2050, followed by Canada and Russia. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is also set to be one of the largest expanders of oil and gas production despite pledging to use its COP presidency to “keep 1.5°C alive.”
  • Five global north countries with the greatest economic means to rapidly phase out production are responsible for a majority (51 percent) of planned expansion from new oil and gas fields through 2050: the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom. New drilling in countries with high incomes, diversified economies and outsized historical responsibility for causing the climate crisis, while claiming to be climate leaders, is inexcusable. These countries must not only stop expansion immediately but also move first and fastest to phase out their production and pay their fair share to fund a just global energy transition.


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