Three-Quarters of All Fossil Fuel Reserves Must Be Left Unused to Avoid Dangerous Climate Change, Scientists Say

oil wells photo

photo: L Gnome

According to two reports in Nature, if we want to keep global temperature rise due to climate change below 2°C then we will have to leave about three-quarters of all proven reserves of fossil fuels unused in the ground:If this is done the risk of exceeding the critical 2°C threshold—after which the risk of catastrophic ecosystem changes becomes increasingly likely—gets reduced to a one-in-five chance. It would mean essentially burning no fossil fuels past 2024, unless carbon capture and storage technologies are deployed (a big variable considering the scale at which they'd have to be deployed and their cost).

Future Fossil Fuel Exploration Not Worth the Investment
Reuters quoted one of the report authors, Malte Meinshausen of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Impact Research, as saying that all of this,

...really casts doubt on whether investment into more fossil fuel exploration is really a good investment. It makes a bet on technologies [like CCS] which at the moment are pretty uncertain still, or otherwise just leads us on a path to 3 or 4 degrees warming.

Slow Cuts Now Are Not Enough
The other major point made in the reports is that rather than the slower emission cuts proposed by the United States and some other rich nations, followed by more rapid cuts post-2020, we really need to make rapid cuts in the short term if we want to limit the risk of temperature rise. Global emissions must peak by 2020 or sooner if we want to preserve the sort of climate the planet has known for essentially all of human history.

via: Reuters, BBC News
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