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Almost 60 percent of global crude oil and fossil methane gas reserves, plus 90 percent of coal reserves, should be kept in the ground if the world has a chance to meet the target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, a new peer-reviewed study showed.
Researchers led by environmental and energy economist Dan Welsby at University College London have estimated that oil and gas production must decline globally by 3 percent each year until 2050 if the target is to be achieved.
“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 wrote in their paper ‘Unextractable fossil fuels in a 1.5 °C world’ published in the journal Nature this week.
The “bleak picture” of the scenarios in the study are probably underestimating the changes in fossil fuel production required for limiting global warming, said the authors of the study.
Economies dependent on oil for fiscal revenues, including OPEC’s number one and number two producers, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as Bahrain and Kuwait, face “huge transition risk unless economies diversify rapidly,” the research found.
Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, said in a new climate report that the much-publicized goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will be beyond reach unless the world makes immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The UN panel’s report is “a code red for humanity,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.
“The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk,” Guterres added.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.