By Bobby Magill

Weaning a warming world from crude oil and coal to focus on low-carbon energy is a major priority in the global race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change.

But the world isn’t going to divorce itself from gasoline and jet fuel anytime soon, and a new report says that there is plenty of room to make oil less costly to the climate, at least while alternatives to oil are being developed.

Opportunities to reduce emissions can be found in understanding that different kinds of oil are responsible for drastically different levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Oil produced in one place may release significantly more GHGs than oil produced in another, according to a new Oil-Climate Index published this month by a team of scientists from Stanford University, the University of Calgary, and the Carnegie Endowment.

The team investigated the GHGs involved in the entire supply chain for 30 different kinds of crude oil, from production, transportation and refining, to being burned by consumers. What they found was that GHG emissions varied 80 percent between the cleanest and dirtiest kinds of oil…

…Smaller companies, which are the chief producers of shale oil in the U.S., are less apt to publish technical data about their oil in scientific journals than larger oil companies, and they’re more reluctant to reveal any of their data to scientists, Gordon said.

Michael Wang, a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, said there is little data about venting and flaring of gases in the Eagle Ford and Bakken shale, but Argonne is working on projects in the Eagle Ford that may soon shine more light on the GHG emissions of the oil produced there.

“What’s really useful about the Index, in a way, is it highlights how important transparency is. We really need this information,” Martin said. “It’s important to understand the climate impacts of the decisions we’re making.”

Continue reading at ClimateCentral…

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Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
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Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Fossil Fuels
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Fossil Fuels
Under current policies, fossil fuels will play an important role in the energy system for the foreseeable future. EPIC research is exploring the costs and benefits of these fuels as...
Climate Change
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Climate Change
Climate change is an urgent global challenge. EPIC research is helping to assess its impacts, quantify its costs, and identify an efficient set of policies to reduce emissions and adapt...
Climate Science
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Climate Science
EPIC’s interdisciplinary team of researchers is contributing to a cross-cutting body of knowledge on the scientific causes of climate change and its social consequences.
Environment
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Environment
Producing and using energy damages people’s health and the environment. EPIC research is quantifying the social costs of energy choices and uncovering policies that help protect health while facilitating growth.