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Greenpeace published a new report about phasing out fossil fuels Thursday. (Photo: Greenpeace/Real Climate Leadership)

New Greenpeace Report Breaks Down Why Next US President Has No Choice But to Prioritize Total 'Fossil Fuel Phase Out'

"The science demands our next president initiate nothing short of a full-scale mobilization to phase out fossil fuels and kickstart the renewable energy economy."

Jessica Corbett

As public demands for the Democratic Party to allow a 2020 primary debate centered solely on the climate crisis ramped up Thursday, Greenpeace USA released a new report that implores the next president—whoever it is and with help from Congress—to enact ambitious policies that urgently phase out oil, gas, and coal production to prevent planetary catastrophe.

"Right now we need leaders who have the mettle to stand up to the industry at the center of the climate crisis and reclaim our democracy and economy."
—Tim Donaghy, Greenpeace

Greenpeace's report, entitled Real Climate Leadership: Why The Next President Must Prioritize a Fossil Fuel Phase Out, outlines the need for "a transformative Green New Deal" in the United States to ensure "a clean and prosperous future" on a global scale.

"For the next president and Congress, real climate leadership means not only saying yes to real solutions like a rapid transition to renewable energy with equitable ownership and participation, but also saying no to the destructive impacts of fossil fuel extraction," the report declares.

Just transitioning to clean energy sources in the United States, the report explains, is not enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels—a key target of the international Paris climate agreement.

The United States could run on 100 percent renewable energy and still export enough oil to derail progress on cutting planet-warming emissions, according to an original analysis included in the report. "If steps are not taken to reduce domestic oil production," it reads, "roughly half of any reduction in domestic oil consumption will be counteracted by increased oil consumption elsewhere in the worId."

"It should be obvious that we can't fight climate change and expand fossil fuel use at the same time, but still too many politicians are buying into fossil fuel executives' myth that we need oil, gas, and coal to survive," the report's lead author, Greenpeace USA senior research specialist Tim Donaghy, said in a statement.

"The exact opposite is true, and right now we need leaders who have the mettle to stand up to the industry at the center of the climate crisis and reclaim our democracy and economy," he said. "The science demands our next president initiate nothing short of a full-scale mobilization to phase out fossil fuels and kickstart the renewable energy economy."

Specifically, Greenpeace's report calls on the next occupant of the Oval Office to:

  • Take action on Day One to constrain fossil fuel supply by halting new fossil fuel leasing on federal lands and waters;
  • Set ambitious targets for a fossil fuel phase out in concert with other climate policies; and
  • Restore, strengthen, and fully enforce public health and clean air and water protections.

The group also urges the next president and Congress to end subsidies for fossil fuel production—which now total $20 billion a year—as well as restore the ban on exporting crude oil, and expand it to other dirty energy sources.

"Because policies to restrict fossil fuel production have particular relevance to industry workers and frontline communities impacted by extraction," the report notes, "extra care must be taken to ensure the transition is managed equitably, with an a emphasis on centering frontline leadership, implementing strong labor protections and ensuring family-sustaining jobs."

Greenpeace's Thursday report—published in collaboration with Oil Change United States, Labor Network for Sustainability, Data for Progress, Honor the Earth, and the Indigenous Environmental Network—follows the release last week of the group's scorecard for Democratic presidential hopefuls.

"No candidate received more than two points out of a possible 10 for their position on phasing out fossil fuels," Greenpeace pointed out in its Thursday statement. However, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, author Marianne Williamson, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) all received partial credit.

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