According to research conducted by experts at University College London, nearly 60 % of reserves of oil and gas ad 90 % of coal should remain in the ground in order to tackle global warming.
“This implies that most regions must reach peak production now or during the next decade, rendering many operational and planned fossil fuel projects unviable,” the researchers said in an article published in the journal Nature.
Countries whose revenues depend on oil are confronting huge risks if they fail to diversify their economies in time. At issue here are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Bahrain and Kuwait.
The academics say that decisions on cutting back on hydrocarbon projects influencing climate must be taken by governments.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world cannot tackle the task of inhibiting climate change to 2 degrees unless decisions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions are taken rapidly and in a comprehensive fashion.
At the moment, about 80 % of energy world-wide is provided by fossil fuels. In assessing the reserves that should not be extracted, the researchers moved away from the 2018 baseline. By their calculations, 58 % of oil reserves should remain in the ground, 59 % of methane gas and 89 % of coal. And the biggest consumers of energy in the developing world – like India and China — should reject plans for extracting 76 % of coal reserves.
The researchers’ argument is that in the second half of this century, fossil fuels should be used strictly for aviation and in the petrochemical industry.