A new study conducted by researchers at the University College of London Institute for Sustainable Resources has identified which fossil fuel reserves need to remain unused if the widely agreed upon 2°C warming limit is not to be exceeded.
The researchers at UCL found that worldwide, over 80% of all current coal reserves, half of gas reserves, and a third of oil reserves must remain in the ground and not be burnt if the 2°C target is to be stayed within. These figures will surprise many people as strikingly high and bring into sharp focus the magnitude of the challenge that the global community faces.
Many global leaders have agreed to attempt to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. However, many of these same politicians are often accused of uncompromisingly seeking to exploit all fossil fuel reserves within their countries. The chief author of this UCL report, Dr. Christophe McGlade, states that “policy makers must realize that their instincts to completely use the fossil fuels within their countries are wholly incompatible with their commitments to the 2°C goal.”
In order for the to 2°C limit to be realistic, the vast majority of coal reserves in China, USA, and Russia, must remain in unused, and oil and gas reserves around the world need to be left as they are. This may seem politically improbable, however, the report shows that the pressure to fund research to find and use alternative energy sources is higher than ever.
To view the study in its entirety, visit http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/sustainable/sustainable-news/nature_fossil_fuels.