Home Opinion Press Releases Fossil fuel threats to protected areas worldwide

Fossil fuel threats to protected areas worldwide

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Globally, at least 918 protected areas have ongoing or planned fossil fuel extraction projects within their boundaries, with a total of 2337 active or proposed oil, gas, and coal extraction projects within legally protected areas.

At least 50.8 Gt of potential CO emissions from oil, gas, and coal reserves are on track to be extracted from projects within protected areas over their lifetimes, according to industry projections. This is more than three times the annual emissions from the US and China combined and represents tens of billions of tonnes of potential emissions that could be avoided if protected areas were off limits to fossil fuel extractive industries.

In the Congo basin, 45 protected areas, and 38% of their total extent is overlapped by planned oil and gas blocks.

In the Western Amazon, 26 protected areas and 12% of their total extent is covered by oil and gas blocks (4% at the level of the entire Amazon).
In Southeast Asia, an estimated 361 protected areas or 21% of their combined extent is covered by oil and gas blocks.

This report examines ongoing exploitation and threats of further fossil fuel extraction within protected areas, emphasizing what is at stake if we do not take immediate action to halt the exploitation of resources within their borders. Despite the clear contradiction to the conservation mission of these protected areas, ongoing fossil fuel extraction is rife and oil and gas blocks in protected areas are up for auction each year, bringing threats of future extractive activities.

To better understand the scale of these threats, this report describes current and planned extraction around the world, with particular attention to the future threats in the pantropics, focusing on protected areas in the Amazon, Congo basin, and Southeast Asia, given their high biodiversity values and critical contributions of their ecosystems to carbon sequestration and storage.

Global temperatures and biodiversity loss are on track to surpass critical thresholds. Reducing and eventually eliminating fossil fuel use will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and halting fossil fuel projects within protected areas will contribute to both climate and biodiversity conservation goals. Recognizing these critical issues and taking decisive action against fossil fuel extraction is a critical step in avoiding far reaching consequences for biodiversity, climate stability, and human well-being.

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