The science is clear. We must act today to address climate change. Goals for reduced emissions in 2030, 2040 or 2050 are simply inadequate.
Yet politicians on both sides of Canada’s parliament — along with the governments of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan — are determined to keep increasing production of fossil fuels. They say production must increase today so that we can afford reductions in the distant future.
But, what if there is no future?
Most fossil-fuel reserves must remain untapped to hit 1.5 °C warming goal, NATURE, September 8, 2021:
Nearly 90% of economically viable global coal reserves must be left in the ground to have even a 50% chance of hitting internationally agreed climate-change goals, according to an updated model of limits to fossil-fuel extraction, published today in Nature.
For a 50% chance of remaining below 1.5 °C degrees of global warming — the more aspirational goal of the 2015 Paris agreement — the world must not emit more than 580 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide before 2100, report the authors. Under this scenario, researchers led by environmental and energy economist Dan Welsby at University College London calculate, 89% of coal reserves, 58% of oil reserves and 59% of gas reserves must remain unextracted (see ‘Resources off limits’).
The authors stress that although the scenario already looks “bleak” for the global fossil-fuel industry, even tighter limits on extraction will be needed to improve the chances of constraining warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
The research “makes the fundamental point that the majority of known economic reserves will not be able to be used”, says Frank Jotzo, an environment and climate-change economist at the Australian National University in Canberra…
Dan Welsby, one of the authors of the NATURE article was interviewed by Gaia Vince on the BBC Radio 4 program and podcast INSIDE SCIENCE.
Cutting methane emissions is the fastest opportunity we have to immediately slow the rate of global warming, even as we decarbonize our energy systems.
It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.
Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere. Even though CO2 has a longer-lasting effect, methane sets the pace for warming in the near term.
At least 25% of today’s warming is driven by methane from human actions. One of the largest methane sources is the oil and gas industry.
Three western provinces are Canada’s largest methane contributors but reducing emissions of the dangerous greenhouse gas has very low priority.
On the same BBC program, Gaia Vince talked with Drew Shindell of Duke University about methane, hydrogen, and electrification:
Categories: Climate Change