Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How Much Coal, Gas and Coal Must be Kept Unused to Limit Global Warming to 2 deg C?

The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2 °C (Abstract, Christophe McGlade & Paul Ekins, Nature. Jan.8, 2016)

Also discussed here: Keep It in the Ground (36 page pdf, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, 350.org, Jan. 2016)

And here: Meeting two degree climate target means 80 per cent of world’s coal is “unburnable”, study says (Carbon Brief, Jan. 7, 2015)

Today we review a report commissioned by several environmental activist groups that examines the extent to which the remaining coal, gas and oil reserves would threaten the UN’s target to keep warming from greenhouse gases to below 2 deg C. The major threats come from the USA from fracking and oil, Australia from coal and from Canada with tar sands as well as from Russia, the Mid-East and China. Globally 1/3 of the oil reserves, ½ of the gas reserves and 80% of the coal reserves must remain unused between now and 2050 in order to reach the goal.

 keep in the gorund  

Key Quotes:

“It has been estimated that to have at least a 50 per cent chance of keeping warming below 2 °C throughout the twenty-first century, the cumulative carbon emissions between 2011 and 2050 need to be limited to around 1,100 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2)”

“Carbon Tracker estimates current known global fossil fuel reserves at 2795 Gt CO2, while other research suggests the figure is closer to 2900 Gt CO2.”

 “in order to stave off catastrophic climate change, the overwhelming majority of the large coal reserves in China, Russia and the United States as well as more than 260 billion barrels of oil reserves and 60 percent of gas reserves in the Middle East must all remain unused.”

Coal mining expansion in Australia could add a total of 36 Gt of CO2 equivalent to the atmosphere between 2013 and 2050. There are more than 60 coal mining projects in New South Wales and Queensland, with a targeted coal output of approximately 450 to 500 million metric tons per year, excluding projects that have been abandoned or shelved”

“By 2020, Canada’s tar sands projects are expected to add 420 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year, a rate equivalent to the entire annual emissions of Saudi Arabia. … production of oil from the tar sands in Alberta is forecast to triple from 1.5 to 4.5 million barrels a day by 2035, adding 706 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year to worldwide emissions.”

“Between 2013 and 2050, the United States is expected to emit a cumulative total of 34 Gt of CO2 equivalent emissions from shale gas and tight oil expansion.”

“India’s current per capita CO2 emissions are low, at only 1.7 tons per person, compared to China, at 6.9 tons and the United States at 17 tons.”

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