Many governments around the world are helping reduce fossil fuel use by encouraging clean energy and energy efficiency. But at the same time, coal, oil, and gas companies continue to explore for new reserves.

Erickson: “It’s sending us on a track towards fossil fuel production that’s way higher than we really can be on if we’re going to have a climate-safe world.”

That’s Peter Erickson of the Stockholm Environment Institute, an international research organization. He says policymakers should consider limiting new fossil fuel development.

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Erickson: “One of the most important things is essentially not giving out those permits for going and finding new oil, gas, or coal reserves.”

He says the climate benefit could be significant. For example, he estimates that if the U.S. stopped issuing new leases for fossil fuel mining or drilling on public lands and water, it would reduce the nation’s CO2 emissions by up to five percent a year by 2030.

Governments could also restrict where oil and gas wells can be drilled, or stop subsidizing fossil fuel companies.

Erickson says these strategies – aimed at keeping more fossil fuels in the ground – can accelerate progress towards a safe and stable climate.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: Paul Lowry / Flikr.