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A call to arms: Report by world's largest oil and gas development company says climate change is irrefutable

Posted by Daniel Hoornweg on November 04, 2015

What if Smith and Wesson or Remington Arms wrote a report calling for gun control? Or Philip Morris suggested the banning of cigarettes; would we listen more?

Any climate deniers who might still be out there just received a powerful ‘no more nonsense – let’s get on with solutions’ report. Schlumberger, the world’s largest oil and gas development company, through SBC Energy Institute, recently released the SBC Energy Institute (2015), Climate Change FactBook.  

The report is a bit tough going for non-scientists in some spots, but with a few footnotes and links to Wikipedia the implications are clear.

For example, the report states: “Under the International Energy Agency’s 2015 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) scenario, which takes into account as of May 14, 2015, the INDC that countries are required to submit for the December 7-8 COP21 climate conference – emissions would be consistent with an average temperature increase of around 2.6°C by 2100 and 3.5°C after 2200” (page 42).

Simply stated, the climate agreement being negotiated next month in Paris, if successful, would still lock us into 2.6oC warming, as a minimum. There’s a detailed discussion on how severe a 2.6oC warming is: suffice it to say, the benefit of a few extra days at the beach are more than offset by biodiversity loss, increased storms, food security issues, geopolitical strife, environmental refugees, and 75 cm sea-level rise.

The report also highlights that climate change impacts will not be uniform around the world. As a country, Canada fares better than most, however the report points out: “For instance, in one scenario (RCP4.5[1]), Eastern Canada’s average annual temperature will most likely increase by up to 4°C compared with the past decade, versus 1.8°C for the global mean” (page 53).

Another way to state this, closer to home, is that the chances of our grandchildren wanting to pass the family cottage in Muskoka or the Kawartha Lakes on to their children is very slim as we will see our lakes in these regions disappear. And anyone whose job it is to protect the Great Lakes should get a raise and an assistant.

When an oil and gas company publishes a report this direct, only fools ignore the warnings.

The fact Schlumberger published this report is particularly poignant for me. In 1985, I won the employment lottery out of university and got a job with Schlumberger in Alberta. In two years I probably assessed more than 200 oil and gas wells – about half were likely developed. Before that I had a work-term floating on Lake Erie as the provincial environmental and safety representative overseeing production of natural gas wells. Since graduation I’ve probably driven more than 1.5 million kilometres and flown over 10,000 hours. I am ‘big foot’ in terms of climate contribution.

A long time ago Schlumberger helped me pay off my student loans. Today, Schlumberger is enabling all of us to better understand our environmental debts and suggests very strongly that we need to get on with paying it forward.

Read the full report.

[1] RCP, Representative Concentration Pathway suggesting a radiative forcing in 2100 4.5-times relative to pre-industrial values. This is an optimistic scenario estimating that global greenhouse gas emissions peak around 2040.

Filed under: Sustainability 101