Oil should remain in the ground

The majority of fossil fuel reserves should not be used if global warming is to be restricted to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, finds a recently published study.

Policy makers around the world in general agree that there is a pressing need to restrict the average global temperature rise caused by greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study published last week in Nature, an overwhelming large proportion of current oil, gas and coal reserves around the world will have to remain unused if the 2 C target is to be met.

Over the next 35 years, around 80 per cent of currently recoverable coal reserves, 50 per cent of gas reserves and one third of oil reserves should remain in the ground, finds the study. For instance, just under 40 per cent of oil reserves in the Middle East – about 260 billion barrels of oil – should not be burned. This jumps to nearly 75 per cent in Canada, though its oil reserves are much lower. The study suggests that these figures do not change by much if carbon capture and storage (CCS) is used. The authors also found that all fossil fuel resources in the Arctic should be classified as unburnable and should therefore not be used.

Michael Jakob and Jérôme Hilaire from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, one of the top environmental think tanks worldwide, praised the study for its detailed regional breakdown, reports EurActiv.de.


Photo credit: Henning Mühlinghaus, flickr/Creative Commons

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