When you hear the term “sustainable development,” what comes to mind?
As geoscientists, we think in terms of basins, rock types, fluids, reservoir properties and structural settings, etc. We work in a variety of industries: oil and gas, mining, environmental, geothermal, education, finance and others. So, “sustainable development” can and will mean something to each of us in our own professions and, perhaps, our personal lives as well.
The planet, as through geologic time, is constantly changing. So where are we now? Back in 2015, the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, were adopted by world leaders in a historic United Nations Summit. These goals were agreed upon and are currently being implemented by countries and companies, financial institutions, NGOs, non-profits, professional societies and educational institutions around the world.
Now, in 2021, new pledges have been announced after the first week of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties, or COP26, which include:
- A global pledge to cut methane emissions
- Commitment to halt deforestation
- New net-zero country targets
How Can We Contribute?
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how we, as geoscientists, can impact these lofty goals. When we look at reservoir complexities, can we work with engineers to design well trajectories to communicate with as much of a reservoir as possible, to minimize number of wells drilled, to maximize production through fewer wells and to minimize environmental footprint? Can upstream and downstream teams work together to plan facilities for water handling and reduce methane emissions? Does our knowledge of high pressure, high temperature reservoirs and geologic structure apply to both nonrenewable and renewable energy resources, and assist in net-zero goals? Does this knowledge apply to more than one industry?
AAPG’s Division of Environmental Geosciences now focuses on and is aligned with the UN SDGs and the goals of COP26.
- Sustainable energy development
- Energy storage (CCUS, hydrogen, geothermal, etc.)
- Environmental geosciences
- Water resources
- Natural hazards
- Soil science
- Earth systems
- Environmental aspects of mining
- Elemental cycling in global systems
Let’s take this journey together, join the DEG, and explore how we as geoscientists can make an impact with sustainable development and improved environmental performance.