by Tom Kenworthy Posted on January 8, 2015 at 2:50 pm
Keeping the increase in global temperatures under 2°C will require vast amounts of fossil fuels to be kept in the ground, including 92 percent of U.S. coal, most of Canada’s tar sands, and all of the Arctic’s oil and gas, according to the first analysis of which of the world’s reserves should remain untapped.
The study, published in the journal Nature, is a stark assessment of how resource-rich nations and regions will have to adjust to the reality that the battle against climate change means abandoning huge sources of their wealth. Limiting the increase in worldwide temperatures to 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels is generally agreed to be what is necessary to prevent dangerous climate change.
“Our results suggest that, globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves, and over 80 percent of current coal reserves should remain unused from 2010 to 2050 in order to meet the target of 2°C,” write authors Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins of University College London.