Expanding coal exports in the Northwest, including the proposed Cherry Point terminal outside of Bellingham, would produce 420 million tons of carbon pollution annually by 2020, which is more carbon pollution than the entire country of Spain produces, according to a new report released today by Greenpeace.

Ominously titled “The Point of No Return,” the report (.pdf) report notes that the Pacific Northwest poses the greatest threat to climate change in the US.

To make its case, Greenpeace uses data analysis from the environmental consulting firm, Ecofys, to calculate the amount of carbon emissions that would be released if governments and corporations green-light 14 planned coal, oil, and gas projects around the world. Some of the writing is a bit dramatic but their methodical look at how local decisions could impact our global climate is interesting (and scary). For instance:

"In 2020, the emissions from the 14 projects showcased in this report—if they all were to go ahead—would raise global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 20% and keep the world on a path towards 5°C to 6°C of warming," the report states. "To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the rise in global temperatures needs to be limited to below 2°C."

And here's a chart that depicts how our proposed Pacific Northwest coal export terminals compare to other global projects:

  • Greenpeace