Comparing greenhouse gas emissions from global oils that vary widely due to their composition and management.
Oil is changing. Conventional oil resources are dwindling as tight oil, oil sands, heavy oils, and others emerge.
As the range of oils and extraction methods continues to evolve, how do various oils compare with one another on their climate impacts?
Oil is changing. The oils themselves, how they are extracted and processed, and the products into which they are made are shifting in substantial ways.
The Keystone XL pipeline is a canary in the mine. It is a warning of what’s to come.
Keystone XL is a seminal moment for U.S. energy policy. But it also distracts from establishing a credible, consistent, and comprehensive oil policy that balances economic and environmental realities.
Given the fundamental differences between new liquid hydrocarbons—technologically, economically, geographically, and environmentally—it will become increasingly important to parse out the differing climate impacts between oils and choose wisely.
The array of emerging unconventional oils driven by the investment in new technologies is diverse in terms of resource geographies, make-ups, processing requirements, trade patterns, carbon emissions.
Policy guidance is needed to strike a balance between exploiting new energy assets from unconventional oils and protecting the climate.
The climate conditions in the western United States should serve as a reminder that it is best to be deliberate and prudent on unconventional oil development their larger implications are fully understood.
The shift from extracting, processing, and consuming conventional fuel sources to unconventional oils carries a host of still unknown consequences for international economics, technology development, and the environment.