Research

“Bleak” outlook for fossil fuels as study finds 60% of oil and gas must stay in the ground to meet climate targets

A majority oil and gas reserves must remain in the ground to avoid the climate crisis, analysis published today concludes.

Oil site in East Yorkshire. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

The study by University College London found that almost 60% of global oil and gas reserves could not be extracted if there was to be a 50% chance of keeping global temperatures below 1.5C, a target set in the Paris Agreement.

It argues that 92 trillion cubic metres of gas (59%) must stay in ground, along with 744 billion barrels of oil (58%).

Oil and gas production must decline at a rate of 3% a year from now until 2050, the study said.

And the rate of decline might need to be even steeper, the study concluded:

“The bleak picture painted by our scenarios for the global fossil fuel industry is very probably an underestimate of what is required and, as a result, production would need to be curtailed even faster.”

More carbon would need to stay in the ground for a greater than 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5C, the study said.

“most regions must reach peak production now or during the next decade, rendering many operational and planned fossil fuel projects unviable.”

The study in the journal, Nature, comes as decisions are imminent on whether to permit 20 years of onshore oil production from new wells in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

The site operators, Rathlin Energy and Egdon Resources, have both argued that their proposals would support the UK’s transition to a low carbon future because, they said, local oil production had a lower carbon footprint than imports.

“Rapid decline needed”

The Nature study is the first to estimate fossil fuel reserves and resources that must remain in the ground under a 1.5C target.

It builds on previous research in 2015, which estimated that one-third of oil and half of gas must remain in the ground to stay below 2C of warming.

The latest modelling assumes substantial use of carbon dioxide removal and carbon capture and storage.

The authors said:

“Fossil fuels continue to dominate the global energy system, accounting for 81% of primary energy demand. After decades of growth, their rate of production and use will need to reverse and decline rapidly to meet internationally agreed climate goals.”

“The need to forgo future production means country producers, fossil energy companies and their investors need to seriously reassess their production outlooks.

“This is particularly true for countries that are fiscally reliant on fossil fuels, to allow for a managed diversification of their economies.”

The study calls for domestic policy to restrict production and reduce demand by, for example, subsidy removal, production taxes, penalties for regulatory non-compliance and bans on new exploration and production.

The proposed international non-proliferation treaty on fossil fuels could also be key to global action,  the study said.

24 replies »

  1. [Edited by moderator]

    ‘Perhaps concentrate upon the maths. and physics rather than the grammar? [Edited by moderator]

    There is no mathematics involved. Except in the fantasy world of the multiple fossil fuel source to which mathematics has an entirely other meaning than any mathematician could interpret. But there is grammar, since grammar is the structure of language. That is not ‘Grandma’ as so oddly suggested. That only goes to show how the grammar from that multiple fossil fuel source is faulty and specious. Again that attempt to introduce spurious elements from the usual list of attempts at avoidance and deviation from the subject. That always happens when the fake narrative has been revealed as having no validity relevance or importance.

    [Edited by moderator]

  2. David/Liza-there are maths. and physics involved in replacing fossil fuels. Sorry to state the obvious, but some still try to deny it, and the hole remains in the bucket.

    Perhaps I am not so much interested in having the last word as seeing how far the Lizas will go, and yet, still end up with a bucket with holes in.

    Once again, you follow exactly that pattern. No clue as to how to mend the hole [edited by moderator] it really does not explain how fossil fuels-in all their uses-can be swiftly replaced, and when you attempt it (rarely) then selectivity and inaccuracy steps forward, surrounded by a fog of your opinion and speculation that morphs into fact. And your grammar does make that very clear, yet I suspect you are confident it does the opposite.

    You are not alone. I, and others, have requested clarification from posters (many times) as to how they believe the equation will balance. Answers? None. Not one, that hangs together, yet a lot of criticism against those who have to try and achieve that. My view is that currently the equation does not balance but I am open to be convinced otherwise. Somehow, the fact that no one even attempts it, is showing that the conversation some wanted was really a monologue. I have convinced myself in the meantime that air sourced heat pumps hang together for me, but recognize that is only a small part of the equation. The bigger part of the equation is still out there waiting to be solved. If it was not waiting, why have I and others been unable to get the answers? And, no, it is not because I am denying anything. Supply practical answers and they will be accepted. Might be easier if the answers are not there to simply say that opinions rejected make someone a denier, but it still doesn’t make it correct.

    • As usual the multiple sourced extractivist comments only follow the same tired formulaic approach by many extractivists fake narrative pattern.
      There is no mention of the statistics that 1 in 5 deaths are caused by fossil fuel pollution. That is a statistically verified fact. But apparently not one that can be acknowledged or even attempted to be challenged.

      There is no mention of the latest extinction event in history being a result of pollution by the fossil fuel industry and the continued ravaging and destruction of the Earths natural ecological systems. That is Ecocide. And that is why the Earth is going through the latest multiple species extinction event in earths history. That is also a statistically verified fact. But again apparently not one that can be acknowledged or even attempted to be challenged.

      There is no acknowledgement that the original subject that they themselves attempted to justify the fossil fuel industries activities of ravaging and pillaged for greed and profit.

      There is no apology to Emma Raducanu and her fellow tennis players and suporters, and the staff and visitors to the Isle Of Wight Festival by the multiple fossil fuel extractivists who have so cruelly and falsely highjacked their names and professions for their own ends.
      For dragging them into attempting to justify the fossil fuel extractivist for their ravaging and destruction of the Earths ecological systems that are causing the latest major extinction event and creating the drastically deteriorating climate destruction.

      In stead of any reference to these destructive effects of the fossil fuel extractivist industry All that emerges from the multiple sourced extractivist fossil fuel polluters is just the usual outpouring of empty word comments that say nothing and have no validity relative to the growing climate and multiple species extinction event that the Earth is now beleaguered by.

      Fortunately I supply referenced substantiated and proven answers. But the cry is that nothing is provided. Apparently that is the same word blindness that pervades to usual multiple sourced fossil fuel extractivists comments.

      The truth is unfortunate for the false cry for information. Because I supply what the multiple sourced fossil fuel extractivists don’t want to see. Or apparently, not even read. Since they never seem to know what one of them has written and it takes days for others to even read it themselves.

      I see no valid or substantiated or referenced verification for anything above, that seems to be another blind spots in the formulaic pattern of fake narrative and empty words that say nothing at all.

  3. The 1 in 5 you may believe, David but it is nonsense. Who is the target audience for such?

    Is it my generation in the UK, where I know for 1 in 5 of my family and friends who have died it is not a correct figure-indeed none was the figure? The vast majority were in their 90s and their causes of death were very obvious and supported by a Death Certificate.

    Is it anyone who works in the hospitals in the UK? Certainly not those I know.

    Is it anyone who works in a Care Home in the UK? Certainly not those I know.

    Is it anyone who has travelled to other parts of the world, and seen the child mortality rates, then the levels of mortality from polluted water or lack of food or endemic disease? (Including malaria which still kills over 600k per year-and that is a tiny figure in relation to infant mortality in such areas.) Maybe they have viewed the obesity and drugs issues in USA and the mortality rates resulting?

    Now, I can remember certain pockets of the world where such a figure may be somewhere near the mark, but in terms of the world as a whole it just fails any test of any knowledge. Yet, you put it out there, without any apparent concern that it is nonsense and quote that maths. are not important. I can see why. It is not statistically correct, and it is an insult to those many billions in this world who have so many deaths still within their communities, and absolutely nothing to do with fossil fuel. Indeed many might have been spared with access to fossil fuel eg. irrigation, or delivery of vaccines.

    That is why I have not challenged it, David, because it is a nonsense that most can examine from their own experience and travels, and know it is a nonsense. It really doesn’t need me to point that out. If you believe it does, you insult them.

    I am sure you believe there is an audience without the experience who would be a good target to believe such, but I fear you are also requiring a very early reading ability for that audience. Not sure there are that many child prodigies who read DoD, but you may be lucky.

    “I supply referenced, substantiated and proven answers”. Sorry, David, you posted it and your support for that just shows the opposite.

    I have no problem if you actually believe such “answers”, but please don’t expect me to do so.

        • Judging by the deafening silence and lack of any further false narrative nonsense. The fact that 1 in 5 deaths worldwide are genuinely caused by fossil fuel pollution, and can now be seen to be an accepted fact by the multiple fossil fuel extractivist source.

          Also, now that one of the facts I provided are now agreed with by tacit silence. It appears that the other facts I stated in the list above are similarly be treated with equal deafening silence as a tacit agreement of fact.

          The extractivist fog clears and the facts remain as clear as the new born day, which is intended to be protected by the caretakers and stewards of Gods Green Earth.

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