A key partner in the project had to bail after its plans to supply Germany with gas extracted and shipped from Canada were nixed by the Canadian government, which judged the $14 billion endeavor a climate hazard. Canada’s environment minister called the blueprints to export natural gas “in no way justifiable.”
Now Stade is among the many revived fossil fuel developments around the globe back on a fast track, with Germany scrambling to build new terminals and fracked natural gas from the United States replacing the Canadian fuel supplies that were blocked.
At the same time, even dormant Russian gas fields still pose a climate threat.
Shutting down gas fields is itself is an extensive and costly process, with large amounts of emissions potentially seeping from the facilities for years. Those emissions would compound the climate effects of all the new gas infrastructure outside Russia.
Oil companies say they could mitigate those effects with the installation of carbon capture machinery. Developers of the Rio Grande project, for example, are promising to wipe out more than 90 percent of emissions at their proposed Texas facility by using an industrial process to trap the greenhouse gases and store them underground. The oil company Occidental declared in March that it has a deal to start selling what it calls “net-zero oil,” claiming its use of carbon sequestration techniques will wipe out the emissions normally associated with oil production.
Climate activists say such promises ignore the emissions created when the fossil fuels are shipped and ultimately burned by customers, as well as the reality that carbon capture technology remains a work in progress. Some of the biggest demonstration projects so far have not met their emission reduction targets.
“The idea that we can do a little more gas and then move onto renewables does not work anymore,” said Hohne, the NewClimate Institute founder, who was a contributor to the U.N. emissions gap report. “There is no more space in the carbon budget for that like there was 10 or 20 years ago.”