Geospatial social intelligence for keeping fossil fuels underground toward climate justice
According to the Paris Agreement (COP21, 2015) and COP25 as much as the IPCC reports (2007, 2014, 2019), and different scientific researches on climate change, the global temperature rise should not exceed 2 (limit lowered to 1.5) °C throughout the twenty-first century compared to the average global temperature of pre-industrial times, to avoid the worst impacts on Earth System. Several studies demonstrated that fossil fuel extraction and use are the main anthropic GHC sources and calculated the reduction in fossil-fuels to stay under 2 °C, requiring that the 80% of coal, 50% of gas and 30% of oil should remain under soil or “unburnable” (McGlade and Ekins, 2015). Despite the signature of the Green Deal (2019), Europe and European economy are still for the most part dependent on fossil fuels and Europe is still heavily investing in Oil and Gas projects, even more putting at risk the necessary transition to a “no emission” world. Moreover, Several European
countries are Oil and Gas producers (Italy is the 4th European producer), but the contribution for European necessities come the most part from other no European countries, overexploiting the resources of developing countries. For example, Codato (et al., 2019) shows that more than 10% of Amazon biome, worldwide considered as a key region for cultural and biological diversity and climate regulation, is under concession of international and national oil companies (correspondent to an area double than UK territory), and this percentage increase till 60% for the Amazon of Ecuador. It is worth noting that, limiting hydrocarbon extraction does not only benefit for the avoided emissions of greenhouse gases, but also can drastically reduce direct and indirect socio-environmental impacts, socio-environmental conflicts and environmental injustice, caused by the different phases: exploration, production, refining, transportation.
Globally, only one political experiment was carried in 2007 and abandoned in 2013 in the Yasuní National Park (Ecuador), which aimed not to extract hydrocarbons from the underground, with the simultaneous creation of an international compensation fund. General fossil fuel underground targets have been set at regional level, but the definition of methodologies and criteria to define where to leave fossil fuel untapped remains still unexplored. There is, therefore, an urgent need to identify geographical criteria and to prepare a list of areas where to close oil operation or to live unexplored.
On the other side closing oil operation can unlock potential for alternative economies in the tourism, biodiversity, food quality and sustainable living.
There is a need to move from intentions to real plans to leave oil under soil, implementing real transition policies to exit fossil fuel era.
Geospatial social intelligence for keeping fossil fuels underground toward climate justice is the research project of the Centre to investigate these aspects using a multidisciplinary and geographical approach, to contribute to European efforts for climate change fighting, climate justice and to promote the transition to a “Zero emission” Europe. The project will be carried out at different geographical scales, considering Europe as a whole, the relationships between and within European Countries, and taking Ecuador as a study case of the relationships between Europe and developing countries. Research activities with Ecuador will be possible thanks to the partnerships with one of the most important Ecuadorian academic institutions, the Andina Simon Bolivar University, and important civil society organizations, like Yasunidos and Fundacion Pachamama. Moreover, this project is intended to be a pilot for the creation of adaptable tools and methodologies that could be replicated in other different countries and in different contests. Civil society and associations will be involved in a process of co-creation of knowledge, increase consciousness about the climate issue and promote active citizenship as European citizens.