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New Study Finds Rising Exports of Oil and Gas Undermines U.S. Action to Reduce Emissions


Date: September 15, 2023

New Study Finds Rising Exports of Oil and Gas Undermines Domestic Action to Reduce Emissions

The study breaks new ground by assessing overseas emissions from oil, gas, and coal produced in the United States in tandem with forecasts of domestic emissions

(Arlington, VA) — Ahead of the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit, Symons Public Affairs today released “Exporting Carbon: Assessing the Greenhouse Gas Impact of U.S. Fossil Fuel Exports.”

The study found that greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from United States fossil fuel exports are increasing in amounts greater than the GHG reductions being achieved from the extensive clean energy incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act.

According to the study:

  • Carbon and methane emissions from U.S. fossil fuel exports have increased by 1.8 gigatons (CO2e/yr) since 2005, a 463% increase above 2005 levels.

  • Within U.S. borders, greenhouse gas emissions from energy are expected to decline significantly by 2030. However, emissions from U.S. fossil fuel exports could reach 2.9 gigatons annually by 2030, a 650% increase above 2005 levels.

  • When fossil fuel exports are included, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from energy have increased by 9% since 2005 and are expected to remain above 2005 levels through 2050

  • Fossil fuel exports could cause up to $18.7 trillion in climate damages by 2050.

“Fossil fuel companies are exporting more and more greenhouse gas emissions from the United States even as we are reducing pollution here at home, with the net result that America is basically treading water in terms of our global carbon footprint,” said Jeremy Symons, author of the report and Principal at Symons Public Affairs. “The good news is that addressing fossil fuel production and exports provides an additional set of powerful tools for the Biden administration to lead on climate change. For example, the climate damages associated with US fossil fuel exports could be reduced by up to $6 trillion by shifting trajectories.”

The release of this study coincides with the start of the March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City – a wide-scale mobilization to urge President Biden to stop fossil fuel expansion and extraction. The march will take place ahead of the UN Climate Ambition Summit where UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will ask heads of state to present concrete steps to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels.

The Biden administration is currently considering approving new fossil fuel projects even as the UN Secretary General calls for “ceasing licensing or funding of new oil and gas” to avert the most catastrophic climate change impacts. These projects include:

  • Department of Energy (DOE) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) consideration of CP2 – the largest LNG export project ever considered for approval – as well as Port Arthur LNG, Lake Charles LNG, Commonwealth LNG, and other LNG export projects. FERC will hold an open meeting on September 21, where multiple LNG projects will likely be approved.

  • Department of Interior consideration of new offshore oil and gas leasing in the National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2023-2028 (Five Year Plan). The Administration is expected to soon release its final program.

“This study shines a light on the increasing importance of fossil fuel supply and export policies in shaping America’s climate impact,” said Symons.

The study and slides are available at

Exporting Carbon - Full Report 9 15 2023
Download PDF • 2.39MB

Exporting Carbon Slides Sept 15 2023
Download PDF • 326KB


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Corey Leander
Corey Leander
Nov 23, 2023

Your report engages in the fallacious reasoning that foreign countries' greenhouse gas emissions in the form of burning US-imported natural gas is actually the United States' greenhouse gas emissions -- not those foreign countries'. Ummm, no double counting. If those foreign countries weren't consuming US natural gas, they'd be consuming much dirtier coal or relatively dirtier Russian or Middle Eastern natural gas. That consumption obviously would and does count as those countries' greenhouse gas emissions -- not where they were exported from. It's better these countries are burning the cleanest fossil fuel while we transition to clean energy instead of dirtier ones. Use your common sense, man, you're supposed to be a public policy wonk are you not?

Nov 27, 2023
Replying to

This comment does not accurately characterize the report, which includes both gross (total emissions to the atmosphere) and net (accounting for emissions of displaced fuels) emissions estimates. The report also includes evidence that new LNG expansion is competing increasingly with cleaner renewables. Finally, it should be reiterated, as sourced in the report, that LNG has higher GHGs than other fuels, including coal.

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