Fossil fuel extraction must be stopped to limit global warming •

New research published in the journal Environmental Research Letters highlights the urgency of climate change. The study shows that it is not enough to stop the development of new deposits of oil, gas and coal. To avoid exceeding the 1.5°C temperature change limit, not only new fossil fuel extraction projects must be stopped, but some existing and approved projects must also be decommissioned.

“Our results show that stopping new extractive projects is a necessary, but not yet sufficient, step to meet our rapidly shrinking carbon budget,” said co-lead author Greg Muttitt of the International Development Institute. sustainable. “Some existing fossil fuel licenses and production will need to be revoked and removed quickly. Governments need to start tackling head-on how to do this fairly and equitably, which will require overcoming opposition from fossil fuel interests.

The research is the first comprehensive assessment of CO2 emissions incurred in current and future approved fossil fuel extraction projects. The researchers used a commercial database of more than 25,000 oil and gas fields. They have also developed their own database of coal deposits. Using this information, experts calculated that existing and committed projects would need to release 60% more carbon than expected for 1.5°C and push the budget for the 2°C upper limit set by the Paris Agreement. .

“Our study confirms that building new fossil fuel infrastructure is not a viable response to Russia’s war on Ukraine,” said co-lead author Kelly Trout of Oil Change International. “The world has already exploited too much oil, gas and coal. Developing more would either lead to more dangerous levels of warming, if fully mined, or create a larger scale of locked-in assets.

The researchers point out that increasing oil and gas projects to supplement Russia’s loss of fossil fuels is not an appropriate response to the war in Ukraine. They point out that each new fossil fuel project only further entrenches the world’s governments in the broken fossil fuel system.

“Our research should also be a warning signal to publicly listed companies and their investors that the reserves that are on the books to be developed cannot be developed to stay below 1.5°C,” said the co-author Dimitri Lafleur of Global Climate Insights. “Fossil fuel companies that claim to be aligned with the Paris Agreement and that need to transition their core businesses should accelerate their transition plans.”

By Zach Fitzner, Personal editor

Teresa H. Sadler