The vast majority of fossil fuel reserves owned today by countries and companies must remain in the ground if the climate crisis is to be ended, an analysis has found.
The research found 90% of coal and 60% of oil and gas reserves could not be extracted if there was to be even a 50% chance of keeping global heating below 1.5C, the temperature beyond which the worst climate impacts hit.
The scientific study is the first such assessment and lays bare the huge disconnect between the Paris agreement’s climate goals and the expansion plans of the fossil fuel industry. The researchers described the situation as “absolutely desperate”.
“The [analysis] implies that many operational and planned fossil fuel projects [are] unviable,” the scientists said, meaning trillions of dollars of fossil fuel assets could become worthless. New fossil fuel projects made sense only if their backers did not believe the world would act to tackle the climate emergency, the researchers said.
The conclusions of the report are “bleak” for the fossil fuel industry, implying that oil, gas and coal production must have already peaked and will decline at 3% a year from now. States that are heavily reliant on fossil fuel revenue, such as Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, are at especially high risk. A minister from one Opec state recently warned of “unrest and instability” if their economies did not diversify in time. [Continue reading…]